back to article Virgin Media goes TITSUP* in South London due to painful piles

Thousands of South Londoners have been knocked offline due to a blunder by a construction worker slicing through a Virgin cable. On Tuesday afternoon, a major segment of Virgin Media's fibre cabling was cut by a pile driver on a construction site in Brixton. The cabling has yet to be repaired. Approximately 4,300 customers …

  1. Harry the Bastard

    loved the sample tweets

    especially...

    "@virginmedia Getting dangerously close to 24hrs with no service. Also dangerously close to me contacting Ofcom about lack of info/updates."

    vm doesn't even put scheduled outages on its status pages/ivr system or make the front line helpdesk agents aware, the last one of those i experienced was announced as a few hours but actually lasted three days

    vm broadband - great when it works; but when it doesn't, vm's lack of coordination, communication and basic care for its customers is clear to see

    1. Oor Nonny-Muss
      Devil

      Re: loved the sample tweets

      Ooooh! Someone is going to contact OFCOM. What is it that OFCOM *actually* *do*? I've not seen anything useful attributed to them - I know what the law says they're supposed to do (but scant evidence of it happening)...

      1. wolfetone Silver badge

        Re: loved the sample tweets

        "What is it that OFCOM *actually* *do*?"

        They're going to have a good, long, hard think about the situation, then contact Virgin Media to have a good, long, hard talk about how they need to stop being so poor. Virgin Media will then make a good, long, hard apology to OfCOM and promise to really, really, really try harder not to be so poor next time.

        1. Esme

          Re: loved the sample tweets

          Could Ofcom please also ask VM to stop producing so much junkmail whilst they;re at it? Every flat in the 5-flat house I live in gets sent junkmail from VM once every month. Around March of this year, VM went one better, sending junkmail to a flat 6 that doesn't even exist (trying to sell the VR experience to a virtual flat, maybe?), which it has continued to do since. I shudder to think how much deforestation VM are causing all by themselves...

          1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

            Re: loved the sample tweets

            Amen brother (er, sister). Virgin Media are my single biggest correspondent by a long shot, despite not being a customer. I tried sending them back return to sender, I tried calling and asking for removal. Nothing. If they can't manage that, they're never going to land me as a customer.

            1. alferdpacker

              Re: loved the sample tweets

              I AM a customer but they still send me the brochures trying to convince me to join.

              1. This post has been deleted by its author

                1. This post has been deleted by its author

                  1. Esme

                    Re: loved the sample tweets

                    II once signed up to that. Doing so increased the amount of junkmail I was receiving. Until there are penalties with real teeth to them, junkmailers like Viorgin Media will just keep on as they are.

                2. aidanstevens

                  Re: loved the sample tweets

                  The mail is not unaddressed. It has the full address and is addressed to "The Householder" (or words to that effect, I usually don't get that far!).

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: loved the sample tweets

            "Could Ofcom please also ask VM to stop producing so much junkmail whilst they;re at it? Every flat in the 5-flat house I live in gets sent junkmail from VM once every month"

            Scribble out the addresses, lob back in the post.

            1. Esme

              Re: loved the sample tweets

              @Lost all faith - that gets tiresome after the first year of doing so - and doesnt; work, in VM's case.

          3. PNGuinn
            Trollface

            Re: loved the sample tweets

            Anyone got the home address of the CEO?

            Sending all the sh*t there as a return address might achieve something useful.

            1. Colin Ritchie
              Windows

              You may want to aim a bit higher than the CEO, if you want it stopped.

              Sir R.C.N. Branson,

              The Great House,

              Necker Island,

              British Virgin Islands.

              1. Cuddles Silver badge

                Re: You may want to aim a bit higher than the CEO, if you want it stopped.

                "Sir R.C.N. Branson,"

                Not much point in that, Virgin Media has nothing to do with Branson and Virgin Group. If you want to aim at the top, you want Michael Fries of Liberty Global.

              2. Dan Harris

                Re: You may want to aim a bit higher than the CEO, if you want it stopped.

                No you mean Michael Fries, CEO of Liberty Global who own Virgin Media ...

        2. PNGuinn
          FAIL

          Re: loved the sample tweets

          You forgot "Trebles all round". FIFY.

      2. msknight Silver badge

        Ofcom do bugger all

        They're involved in governance and standards.

        As a result of the outage, they'll consider regulations that ISP's must adhere to in terms of contacting customers, keeping everyone informed and all that blah.

        That's effectively the response I had from Ofcom when I dared to lodge a complaint... no prizes for guessing against who... and funnily enough, another letter just got posted by me, this morning. I'm expecting another response, in a months time, that says more or less the same, and nothing will change.

        1. PNGuinn
          Mushroom

          Re: Ofcom do bugger all

          "They're involved in governance and standards."

          "Involved" as in ...?

          Snouts in the trough while doing less than as little as possible?

          Am I being grossly unfair again ....?

  2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

    It's always been a problem

    It is understood that the construction company was fully aware of the location of all the networks running through and around their site in advance of the build.

    Past experience shows that for these companies it slows down work too much to mark out and dig carefully around services. Generally speaking, it's much easier and cheaper for them to dig away, and just pay the occasional bill they get sent for repairing any damage. To them it's just a cost-benefit analysis, they don't have to care about the inconvenience to others.

    Maybe if Ofcom could fine them for the disruption caused things might change, but they'll not change just because they might get their wrists smacked really firmly.

    1. Sykobee

      Re: It's always been a problem

      Indeed I guess it's their insurance that will repay Virgin's costs and losses for this, so they won't really have much of an incentive to improve.

      I expect the cost of loss of service on the backhaul services will be massive.

      And the consumer outages will likely tot up to several dozen thousand quid too.

      Pretty poor that a status update couldn't be posted on VM and Sky's website though. It's not like this one is their fault.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It's always been a problem

        If only liability insurance was free and didn't go up every year based upon previous claims!

    2. BenR

      Re: It's always been a problem

      My experience - which is actually in construction - tells me that half the time, the "exact location" of these services that Virgin claimed the construction company had will have error bars on it of ±10m if you're lucky. The disclaimer you get back on C2 and C3 notices to stats companies is a nonsense. Once it's in the ground they generally have no idea where it is.

      I've worked on schemes where there was a large diameter, high-pressure gas main running roughly adjacent to a bridge we were trying to widen, that serviced a large chunk of the Thames Valley with gas, and the response from National Grid was "It's around here somewhere." Lots or trial pits dug to locate it.

      The cost to the scheme will be hundreds upon thousands of pounds, and that's just if they cut through a cable. The costs for a planned move of a big cable like this are stratospheric - we were quoted £500k by BT for moving a fibre-optic cable under the M4 from one duct to another about 50 metres away. If they have to pull a pile out, then the costs are a lot higher than that, because pulling piles out of the ground isn't easy, which is why they normally get left in. The delay costs to the scheme can easily dwarf the "occasional bill" they get sent depending on the scheme. Afraid your statement is simply not true. It isn't worth doing.

      1. m0rt Silver badge

        Re: It's always been a problem

        "we were quoted £500k by BT for moving a fibre-optic cable under the M4 from one duct to another about 50 metres away."

        So, still cheaper than getting a landline connected by them, then.

      2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

        Re: It's always been a problem

        Afraid your statement is simply not true. It isn't worth doing.

        That wasn't my experience when I worked for a company that owned the underground plant these guys usually dug through. Granted that was more local-council-level repairs, not major construction projects, but those guys never even bothered to call the hotline to ask if there was plant, they just dug & hoped for the best.

        1. BenR

          Re: It's always been a problem

          I'm assuming (hoping!) that this was a number of years ago - making no judgements about your age - because carrying on like that now could, would and probably *should* lead to a proper spanking through the courts by HSE. And probably a civil suit by the plant-owners, and possibly a criminal suit as some of the services are statutory. And then a possible further civil suit from the recipients of the services for service interruption.

          Only takes a backhoe through a HV cable or a gas main to cause severe problems... and all of a sudden someone is dead and the CEO is in court for corporate manslaughter. If the higher-ups knew about and did nothing, they deserve what they get. this is why there is always a "zero retribution" policy on H&S whistleblowing on every site i've ever been on.

    3. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

      Re: It's always been a problem

      The only way for this to stop is find a way to hit the company directly with fines and possible jail time. One avenue might be to go after them on endangering employee safety.

  3. inmypjs Silver badge

    "won’t be able to make a full repair until the pile is removed"

    Depending on the type and size, piles are not that easy to remove

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gd1XwLdxL4U

    1. TitterYeNot
      Coat

      Re: "won’t be able to make a full repair until the pile is removed"

      "Depending on the type and size, piles are not that easy to remove"

      Jesus, with piles that big you'd need more than an inflatable cushion and a tube of Anusol...

    2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: "won’t be able to make a full repair until the pile is removed"

      Hmm, I was expecting that link to be gruesomely medical and in very poor taste. Quite tame, really.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "won’t be able to make a full repair until the pile is removed"

        Well, you did ask for it (NSFW):

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oHOeeedXoMs

        1. HarryBl

          Re: "won’t be able to make a full repair until the pile is removed"

          Noooooo! My eyes!

  4. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

    When will those groundworks planners learn...

    When will they learn to not measure these sites out using such obscure units such as the metre. It is well understood that large groundworks should be measured by the reference Diplodocus or London bus measures.

  5. Jon Massey
    FAIL

    Pipe

    Those guys are pipe welders, nowt to do with pile driving nor cabling. You need to sack your photo editor

  6. FuzzyWuzzys Silver badge
    Happy

    " Also dangerously close to me contacting Ofcom about lack of info/updates."

    Best of luck son!

    Ofcom f**ks to give = zero!

  7. nsld

    I guess

    Hotspotting from the mobile was more effort than pissing and moaning on twatter?

    The threat of OFCOM is like waving a lettuce leaf at a tank, lots of noise and no impact.

  8. James Dore

    Not just Virgin....

    It's affecting JISC systems too, who provide internet connectivity for .ac.uk institutions: https://twitter.com/jiscmi

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not just Virgin....

      Surely they wouldn't be relying on a single cable fro ma single provider - they must have distributed, redundant links?

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Not just Virgin....

        Inefficiencies, dear boy. Have to keep the vice-chancellor in champagne and Armani... can't afford to support redundant links.

    2. hmv

      Re: Not just Virgin....

      No I think that's a separate incident with a rogue JCB.

      1. Kubla Cant Silver badge

        Re: Not just Virgin....

        a separate incident with a rogue JCB

        Backhoe screws backhaul?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No redundancy

    Virgin don't multihome their POP's: period. A matter of policy according to one of their LINX presentations from a while back. Not sure it really makes sense now dark fiber is quite cheap, but...

  10. Baldy50

    Not a 10K cable TF!

    Makes a bit of a mess of a 360 bucket, actually blew a tooth right off and looked like a welder on crack had been having a go at it.

    So when I had to trench out for comms in the same local a year or so later, near the sub station I was very very careful, cos they ain’t very deep in places.

    It was like something out of 'The Time Team' and I was Tony Robinson, no, no ,no I don't need the mini digger just f off I'll do it by hand thank you very much, not too far only about 7.5 metres from one building to the other and on one of those very hot days last year, I was wetter than an otters pocket by the time I was done, not sure if it was the sun or using a medium breaker that caused that.

    Getting through the compacted road planings was the most scary bit, Sphincter muscle on overdrive.

    BTW the bloody CAT was next to useless, bits of metal in the ground all over and readings every where!

  11. Mr Commenty McComentface

    Love it...

    How an article about a construction company fucking up royally and drop[ping Virgin in the shite turns into an Ofcom bashing sesh.

    Not that Virgin and Ofcom don't deserve it, but really?

    Still find it amazing that, as someone's already said, that it is quicker, cheaper and easier for the construction firm to go "na fuck it, we'll just take a chance" than to actually go "look, for the love of god don't lap a bloody great pile here...". Or is it the fault of the Architects for piss poor planning?

    Out of interest, anyone know what sort of fines there are for this sort of stuff and who actually issues them????

  12. Richard 45

    Timico also went offline c. 09:20 this morning when their upstream supplier's 10Gbps link got severed.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Here in the US you are suppose to dial 811 before you dig. This is more or less to cover your ass because there is a margin of error. The old the city in the US the bigger the margin. In cities like NYC you have massive amount of wires that no one is sure who it belongs to. Phone companies can be the worst offenders as they lines are not marked in some older cites and they just cant unplug cause they don't know what it will do. That's why fires can be a god send for them. The can start over and relabel every thing.

  14. Walter Bishop Silver badge
    FAIL

    Fibre cable was cut by a pile driver

    "Major segment of Virgin Media's fibre cabling was cut by a pile driver"

    Does this mean that a single cable was serving the 4,300 customers. Not exactly the redundant Internet we were promised.

    1. Captain Badmouth
      Happy

      Re: Fibre cable was cut by a pile driver

      Surely that internet is now redundant?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Fibre cable was cut by a pile driver

      The Internet is still working, just not for those people. Better SLAs and redundancy are available from a range of suppliers at a much higher cost.

  15. Dan Harris
    FAIL

    Still Down 5 days later ...

    Anecdotal reports suggest bits of their network are coming back online, but I appear to be in the unlucky camp ... no sign of any connectivity and my 4G hotspot has taken an expensive caning ... doubt VM will be recompensing me.

  16. Dan Harris

    Astonishingly its back down after a few days of service, and they are predicting it will be down until Friday!

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