A broadband connection is something that the majority of the population now take for granted, but this is not the case for the Eskra community. I will highlight the issues regarding a fixed line broadband connection (from BT) using our own case as an example.
From the introduction of broadband to residential areas, we had applied through BT to get a connection, and for a number of years we were told that we were unable to get a connection due to the length of our line (approximately 11.5km from the local exchange of Fintona). Over the years, the infrastructure was improved to a certain extent and some in the local community were beginning to receive a connection and so this prompted us to apply for broadband again.
Around the end of January 2012, an application was made for broadband again. We received our router and all the initial documentation that comes along with it. Our broadband activation day came and went and we still didn’t have a connection. After a number of phone calls to the BT technical help line, an engineer was booked and came out, telling us again that we were unable to receive a connection due to the length of our line. However, with a little perseverance and a few more phone calls and engineer visits, we received our broadband connection of 160kbps for the first time in February 2012 after a fault was fixed on our line, so it turned out that the line was not too long after all.
We began to experience issues with our connection in June 2013, when the connection began to drop from 8am to 11pm every day. Due to the fact that we were not receiving a full service, we phoned the BT technical help line again, and an engineer visited at the end of June.
Over a span of two days, this engineer carried out “improvements” to the line, after which the connection that we did have was lost, with the engineer at the time stating, surprise surprise, that the line was too long (trust me though, the house hasn’t moved).
A second call to the technical help team was made and another engineer came out (who had no record of previous engineer visits). He carried out a few tests and came to the same conclusion that the line was too long. We mentioned to him that we had been told this before, and ended up with a connection for over a year, to which he had no answer.
Another call was made to the technical help team, and after going through mundane checks such as confirming that we had our router, the colour of the lights on the router, what phones, electrical devices we had in the house yet again, and even being told that the phone line we called the technical help team on didn’t exist, we realised that we were getting nowhere.
Between these two engineer visits, our internet connection began to come back for a day or two at a time, but sadly it was still very intermittent, and in fact, more intermittent than when the problem was reported in the first place.
An alternative route was attempted in which we contacted the Department of Enterprise Trade and Investment (DETI). After clarification of the problem, our complaint was passed through to the executive level complaints department in BT, and we believed that we had some hope of sorting things out – unfortunately we were so wrong.
We received a phone call from the complaints department in which they stated that were unable to get a connection due to the length of our line. After some discussion with them, highlighting that those further down our line had a connection, and stating that we had the connection for so long, and how the initial engineer visit had made the issue worse, it was agreed that a third engineer would visit and that an end to end test of our line would be carried out, and that there would be a follow up call from the complaints department after the visit.
The final engineer came out and carried out a number of tests on the line, and tested the line and a number of poles near the house, but he came to the same conclusion that the line was too long.
Between this engineer visit and the call back from BT, our internet connection came back for over 48 hours. When we received the call back, we were told that we were definitely unable to get a connection and that there was no further point in trying or sending out further engineers. When we informed the agent on the phone that we actually had a connection at that exact moment, they simply didn’t believe us and asked could they run a check on the line to see. After carrying out this test, they were astonished that after three engineer visits stating we couldn’t get a connection, that we did in fact have one.
The agent on the phone asked to monitor the connection and requested that we note the date and time that the connection dropped if it were to. When the connection went, we got in touch to let them know, and we were told that we were “just lucky”, and they admitted not knowing why we had the connection. We believed that this was not a satisfactory answer, and asked for further investigation.
In the final call from the executive level complaints department, they stated that the final position from BT was that the line was too long to sustain a connection, and that we had the connection for those few days, and I quote, “because of the way the wind was blowing” – our family has a strong background in technology and there is also a retired telephone engineer in the family and so we knew when we were getting fobbed off.
During this phone call, we asked how far away we were from getting a stable broadband connection, and the agent stated that there was a stable connection at pole DP146, which is in fact the pole outside our house (around 10m away from our front door). The agent had no explanation to why when the connection was at that pole, why it couldn’t be re-established in the house.
As the situation now stands, BT are officially in deadlock over the situation.
UPDATE: On the 9th September, a BT engineer visited and changed our router, and within 30 seconds he had fixed our internet connection and a long line was never mentioned! I should highlight that during this time we were (and still are officially) in a deadlock situation with BT.
UPDATE: From September 2013 to June 2014, we has our internet connection no problem. Issues began to appear from the 11th June when the connection started to drop from time to time. Again, I was in touch with the technical help department at BT, and after an engineer visit, we were told again that it was a long line. issue. Again , with some preference, another engineer was due to visit. The engineer phoned on the day to say he would check a few things and phone back.
The engineer did not phone back.
The connection was still dropping, so I got back on the phone again on the 1st September 2014. An engineer was then booked for the 4th of September.
This engineer did not telephone or call to the house. (4th September)
And so on the 19th September, I telephoned BT again. The engineer again said that it was a long line. Having highlighted that we were told this in June 2013 and the connection was then fixed, I was informed that in the previous year, a “temporary fix” was put in place. Asking what this fix was, I was informed that a “temporary fix” would not be done because I would be phoning in 8 to 9 months with the same problem.
Asking why we were not given any feedback from this engineer visit that was supposed to have happened on the 4th September, I was informed that they were “telling me now” – 15 days later!.