View Full Version : BT outage in Manchester

Shaggy Sheep Driver
31st Mar 2004, 09:09
For the last 2 days both SSD's phone lines have been out of order. Apparently this is because of a fire in a cable duct in Manchester, 15 miles away. Friends in the same town as me in East Cheshire have not suffered any phone line failure.

Two questions:

1) What sort of a network are BT operating that can cause loss of service following a single point of failure to many thousands of individuals and businesses remote from that failure?

2) How can such a failure affect my lines, but not others in the very close vicinity, in a town 15 miles south of the failure in central Manchester? Also, phone lines at my office, in the south Manchester connurbation and much closer to the city, were unaffected.


31st Mar 2004, 09:19
I take it you're getting compensation, SSD?

31st Mar 2004, 09:39
Working in Chorley, 26 miles north of Manchester. Cannot make outgoing call, allegedly due to this incident!

26 miles away!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

31st Mar 2004, 09:58
If its of interest eal401, I live and work from home in Chorley and have not been affected in any way with both phone and broadband connection working fine!

31st Mar 2004, 10:11
At 20.15hrs Monday I arrived at a certain hospital to do a shift for a new company I'm working for.
The shift starts at 20.45hrs.
No sign of the ward where I'm booked, so I grab a porter who informs me that he thinks the ward is situated at another site within the trust a few miles away.

I ring our Central Manchester office for confirmation of WHERE the job actually is and to give 'em a mouthful for giving me wrong information, to find no connection.
Redial, and redial again, I still couldn't get a connection........strange!
I ended up ringing the On-Call in London and getting patched through to a mobile in Manchester after waiting several minutes to get through due to busy mobile network.....strange!

It didn't dawn on me until I awoke yesterday and found a text from my new employers in Manchester about something else that I realised what was going on.

They will have lost a fortune without telephone communications into their office...............and it ain't sorted yet!

eal401 - Wigan is online...... and has been throughout the incident!
I have crept in here for the past 2 nights! :ok:

Ric Capucho
31st Mar 2004, 10:50
Thought Macc still used smoke signals and tom-toms, SSD.

Heh heh heh.


31st Mar 2004, 11:43
Duckbutt & 5thamendment, I'm curious as we can still receive incoming calls.

Personally, I think it's our next-door to useless IT provider making an excuse!

Shaggy Sheep Driver
31st Mar 2004, 11:59
Thought Macc still used smoke signals and tom-toms, SSD.

Heh heh heh.


And, for long distance, bonfire beacons:)

We are a tad more civilised in SSD-land:ok:


The Invisible Man
31st Mar 2004, 12:05

I have important message for you.....delivered to my house by mistake.

I will be passing through your place next week on Das Boat.

Setting off Friday from home port, will be with you on Wednesday.

Will give it you then, they wont have the phones up and running by then I'm sure !!!

Please feel free to call for drink or 10.

31st Mar 2004, 12:06
The answer to some of this is that the 'phone system is highly centralised - loads of calls from all over the place pass through major exchanges. There is/used to be a huge installation in a hole in the ground in central Manchester, originally built as part of govt. communications planning in the 50s/60s...

Ric Capucho
31st Mar 2004, 12:44
Indeed, SSD, the old beacon network has fallen intoa sad state of neglect.

One hears that the beacon watchman at Lyme Park completely failed to light his signal fire upon the death of the Dear Old Queen Mum. He was flogged, and disembowled, of course, but it's only a matter of time until the whole network fails just when we need it; a surprise invasion by those frenchies, or a new armada looming on the horizon.

But no, we have learned to rely solely on the BT phone network. What foolishness! Have these people never heard of backup networks?


31st Mar 2004, 12:47
And, for long distance, bonfire beacons

Bonfire beacons? In Manchester??? It's raining all the time for gawd's sake!!:O

31st Mar 2004, 12:55
There is/used to be a huge installation in a hole in the ground in central Manchester, originally built as part of govt. communications planning in the 50s/60s...

Which is precisely where the fire was!!!

Ric Capucho
31st Mar 2004, 13:18
Indeed, Ms Angels, which is why the heliograph system never worked out.

That and the fact that the lads from Salford kept nicking the mirrors.

Anyways, Manchester beacons have lids on to keep the rain out.


31st Mar 2004, 15:38
The bad news for us poor so 'n' so's in ATC Flight Planning at manch is that the AFTN is out at Leeds,Tees-Side Humberside, Walney, Blackpool and Liverpool. Everything routed to us:* , and we fax the serious stuff [Fpls.slots,etc] to them. 900+ yesterday:ok:

31st Mar 2004, 15:54
Bonfire beacons? In Manchester??? It's raining all the time for gawd's sake!! Manchester beacons have lids on to keep the rain out. Just you lot wait until Summer, and the traditional hosepipe bans and standpipes return. Who'll be laughing then, I wonder, eh? :E

In Central Manchester, RBS cash machines were out of action due to the fire and phone outage, but Barclays and Lloyds machines were unaffected.

Shaggy Sheep Driver
31st Mar 2004, 15:56

No facilities for Das Boot in SSD-land. Nearest river is Bollin, a couple of miles north, but not navigable. Nearest canal is Macc, about 10 miles away. Does Das Boot have wheels?:)


Bonfire beacons would be OK in Cheshire most of the time (not as rainy as Manchester), but see below......


I'm afraid the backup network has fallen into disuse in Cheshire. The Alderley Edge beacon site is now surrounded by tall trees. Mind you, if they lit it, it might set fire to the trees........


The Invisible Man
31st Mar 2004, 17:28

Tis the Mac we shall be travelling down. Das Boat does not have wheels but you may !!!


bagpuss lives
31st Mar 2004, 20:46
Interesting (or not) fact number 2,223,112,122 :

The "tunnel" in which the fire destroyed the cables is part of a secretive series of underground bunkers and communications centres constructed during the Cold War period beneath City Centre Manchester.

Good job they never dropped the old bomb after all eh? :D

31st Mar 2004, 21:11
I didn't know BT was gay.

31st Mar 2004, 22:35
long distance, bonfire beacons


If BT cann't repair the telephone system immediately then the LBA
can erect its own beacon on the Chevin.They have had beacons on the Chevin from the time of Elizabeth the 1st.We have lots of experience in building them.If that fails there is a man who keeps pidgeons in a loft near the end of 14 runway and for the princely sum of a fiver will allow the LBA the use one of his birds to request a slot time.Should be a saving on fax paper.

1st Apr 2004, 14:48
Link (http://www.theregister.co.uk/content/35/36708.html)

Indeed. That was rather what I thought. The exchange in question was originally codenamed "GUARDIAN" - as in the Manchester Guardian....

1st Apr 2004, 15:00
Over the years I've been involved in quite a number of major failures wrt data and voice comunications. Remember the JCB that dug up a cable near Oxfordshire in the 90s ?

I do not have a huge regard for BT nor do I work for them. However, they do have a large degree of resilience in their network.

With a fire such as this, in a major city, in a major fibre optic route then there will be severe disruption and it takes a long time to repair the damage.

Personally I would bat the ball into the court of those wingeing businesses who are claiming to have lost millions & wingeing individuals who have lost their Broadband connections.

BT have provided suitable backup to those affected I.e. dialysis patients etc.

Yes, you can have Business Redumption Planning until it comes out of your ears. It is also quite possible that no amount of BRP would have skirted around such a major failure.

But having said that BT work their backsides off when an incident such as this occurs - drafting in fibre splicing teams etc etc. The conditions are difficult there and I believe they are doing their best.

Take a look at your own resilience before taking the simple route of slagging off BT. There are other service providers out there. If your IT guys had an idea of what they are doing they would have investigated this.

3rd Apr 2004, 16:07
Chiglet -

just out of interest, and in an ATC FBU capacity, who/what is your published contingency cover for this particular type of outage?

3rd Apr 2004, 16:41
I am not affected by the Manchester BT outage but last night couldn't log on to the internet for nearly four hours because... wait for it... the NTL hub in Guildford, Surrey (I live in SE London/Kent) was down...this meant that NO NTL Broadband customers could access the internet for that period, not sure about regular telephones.

It probably is just coincidental but to have two "hubs" of two major communications providers affected in the same time period could be construed as someone practising for disruption ::narrowing eyes suspiciously:: ... or have I just read too many spy books/thrillers! :ok: