Villagers back in touch after week of disruption

Phone and internet services went down after a tractor collided with a telegraph pole in Sudbourne

Phone and internet services went down after a tractor collided with a telegraph pole in Sudbourne - Credit: Archant

Phone and internet connections have been restored to a Suffolk village after lines went down when a tractor collided with a telegraph pole.

People living in Sudbourne, near Orford, were relieved to discover that engineers had fixed the problem on Wednesday afternoon – exactly one week after residents were cut off.

Up to 70 customers were affected by the communications blackout, including a woman in her 90s who spent 14 hours lying injured on the floor after a panic alarm failed to connect to support service call handlers. She was taken to hospital but neighbours say she is recovering and should be allowed home soon.

BT apologised for the disruption, which engineers had to remedy by replacing two telegraph poles and three lengths of aerial cables – a procedure the company called “complex and time-consuming”.

Customers were also left frustrated by BT’s initial request that they each contact their service providers to report the fault.

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The company said engineers had restored service to some customers by diverting lines to an underground cable, and that temporary service had been restored for all “priority care lines” last Saturday.

Villagers then argued that some customers had been reconnected to the wrong phone number, and that two priority care lines remained down until Wednesday.

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Sudbourne resident David Purnell, who holds keys to the homes of several older residents who have trouble with mobility, said: “It looks like things have been sorted out.

“It has always been a concern that the village is left isolated when the power goes down. The mobile phone signal is abysmal so it leaves us in a communication black spot.”

On the day connection was recovered, BT said: “It is regrettable when Openreach suffers any accidental damage to its network. Our priority is always to restore services as quickly as possible which is what our engineers have done in this case and we apologise for the inconvenience caused.”

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