Residents and business owners in Cranleigh woke up on Friday 13th May to find they had no broadband.
It soon became apparent that they whole village had been affected and this was not going to be a short term outage.
Initially, BT reported that broadband would be back on at midday, then early afternoon, and as evening approached, villagers were assured it would return on Saturday.
In the end, the village was without BT broadband for 36 hours.
This is an example of a tweet from Cranleigh Chamber of Commerce member, Martin Bamford of Informed Choice seeking information which was very poor and proved to be incredibly inaccurate.
Many Cranleigh residents were affected, some of whom were able to use mobile phones to access the Internet socially. But it was the businesses and retailers which suffered the most.
Tills and credit card machines were affected and retailers were asking customers to visit the nearest ATM machine to get cash to pay for goods.
Phone operating systems operated through broadband were also affected and those businesses in that situation would have been unable to take orders for the whole day.
For example, Cranleigh Arts Centre could not take bookings or calls by phone which only recently had been linked to broadband. Informed Choice sent staff home and closed its doors.
It is not known just how many local businesses were forced to take the same action.
Cranleigh Chamber of Commerce investigated how compensation could be obtained for local businesses and retailer members. This proved to be extremely difficult since there is no clear information on the website.
Residential customers may claim for 36 hours rental as long as they reported the fault. Business customers have to prove their losses and negotiate on a one to one basis with BT, but again, only if they reported the fault at the time.
The problem is that most residential and business customers did not report the fault because BT were already publishing online that there was a fault as witnessed in the tweet earlier in this post.
Rosemary French, who runs Ivyhurst Bed & Breakfast in Cranleigh, followed up on a compensation claim only to be told that since she had not reported it, she was not entitled!
It was not ‘some customers’ as quoted by BT but everyone in the area that used the Internet socially or for business using the landlines. Every service provider in Cranleigh, whether BT or not, has to use the BT fibre and copper network.
There has already been considerable debate recently amongst MP’s about ending BT’s unhealthy relationship with its service provider OpenReach, formally separating the two companies.
£1.7bn of taxpayers money has been pumped into subsidising BT’s monopoly and yet 5.7m people in the UK cannot access the Internet at the Ofcom required 10 megabits per second and even worse for the economy, 42% of small and medium sized businesses have insufficient broadband speeds.