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Tuesday, July 20th, 2021, 12:09 pm

The Optical Fibre Experience — Part III

Previously in this mini-series: Part I, Part II, What Bad BT Engineering Looks Like

BT shows its true colours… again. False promises, bad service, time wasted.

Today we have had an Openreach engineer over to complete the setup job (context above, “The Optical Fibre Experience”). I’ve not taken any photographs of the equipment set up indoors and outdoors as I assume there’s nothing particularly unique about it. It’s just some standard gear, which I’m assuming deals with signal modulation and other things I’ve got a poor grasp/understanding of (it’s well outside my professional field/domain).

The initial timeline (for when the service will/should be installed) could not be met, so they reimbursed us for the trouble. I appreciate their acknowledgement and apology (not many companies do that; in fact, many just attempt to blame the customer for every unforeseen mishap). It is expected that in the coming years more homes across the UK (maybe millions, even tens of millions in the coming decade) will have such a service installed, so it’s important to understand reliability aspects, both technical and bureaucratic. As it turned out last week, much more work was required than initially specified (like consent from neighbours to pass new wires). The upside of such migrations is that copper is always a fallback; if installation cannot succeed, it’s possible to use the old system in the interim.

As noted in the last post, I asked them about OpenWRT or similarly freedom-respecting systems at the endpoints, but they don’t support that in any way. In fact, OpenWRT would likely give them an excuse to deny customer support. They just assume uniformity among clients and would not tolerate deviation; instead of just supplying packets (like water suppliers provide water) they want to control everything including the hub/router, i.e. inside the home.

Today’s Events (So Far)

Said both verbally (on the phone) and in E-mail: Openreach will carry out maintenance between 8am and 1pm. I started losing my patience when it was almost midday (knowing that the job would certainly not be completed on time and quite possibly not even commence). Nobody had phoned or shown up by that stage!

They eventually came late, just minutes before 1AM (so the job could be completed on time). But yet worse — it could not be completed at all. They didn’t bring the equipment which over the phone BT insisted would be there to install the wires, even though we spoke about that at least 3 times on the call and BT even had Openreach on the line to confirm a person with such equipment (hoist) would be dispatched and assigned to complete the job.

Whose fault it is or maybe miscommunication alone, both the lateness and coming unprepared shows that something fails rather badly and the customers suffer again and again. I didn’t realise it would become such an agonising experience as it went along; so it is a good thing that I documented the whole thing in writing, starting with the first blunder rather than the first point of contact.

Upon further investigation, a hoist isn’t accessible to the said building, so it’s inapplicable to us and BT should have certainly checked before saying a hoist would tackle the issue; in fact, the person who showed up had no hoist at all, so it’s looking like they’re just guessing and hoping for luck. That all comes at the expense of customers, who weren’t told about such complexities in the first place.

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