Broadband BT fibre cut leaves 37,000 Sky customers in London without broadband

BT outage leaves 37,000 Sky customers in London without broadband or phone

From Juliette Garside, telecoms corresponden – The Guardian, Thursday 12 December 2013 16.38 GMT

TalkTalk users also hit for up to three days in busy online shopping period after suspected thieves cut fibre-optic cables

Tens of thousands of homes across London have been left without phone and broadband for up to three days after suspected thieves looking for copper cut through crucial fibre-optic trunk cables.

In one of the biggest recent outages in BT's network, lines went down at 11pm on Tuesday and the outage was set to last until 5pm on Friday, leaving about 37,000 Sky customers without phone or broadband.

TalkTalk was also hit, with a number of customers losing their phone connections, although many calls have been rerouted. An undisclosed number of BT Broadband households were also affected.

BT blamed a "malicious attack" for the outage. Cables accessed via a manhole on Capital Interchange Way in Brentford were sliced open by intruders on Wednesday night. They were thought to have been looking for copper wire, which has a high resale value on the black market. But the alleged thieves found only fibre-optic cables, which carry huge amounts of data but have no value as raw materials.

A BT spokesman said: "Several engineers are on site and working round the clock to reconnect people."

It is understood some areas are already back online, but the disruption has come during a peak period for online Christmas shopping, with customers unable to make purchases as they rush to meet the postal delivery deadlines.

Exchanges in Stamford Hill, Dartford, Ewell, Mitcham, Wimbledon, Hampstead, Battersea, Chiswick and Beulah Hill have been affected, according to Sky. A team of 10 engineers from BT's Openreach network division is currently working to splice the cables back together in what appears to have been a crucial part of BT's core London network.

Sky said in a statement: "Following a malicious attack on Openreach's network, there's currently a broadband and phone outage in parts of London. Sky and other companies are affected. Openreach engineers are working to repair the network as a matter of urgency.  We apologise to all affected customers."