BT under fire over ‘catalogue of disasters’

An Openreach spokesman apologised for 'highly unusual' delays. Picture: Johnnie Pakington

An Openreach spokesman apologised for 'highly unusual' delays. Picture: Johnnie Pakington

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TELECOMS giant BT has come under fire from companies that have been waiting more than a year for their high-speed broadband services to be connected.

Edinburgh-based parliamentary monitoring agency NewsDirect accused the group’s Openreach arm of presiding over a “catalogue of disasters” after it blamed stuck manhole covers and noise complaints from neighbours for the delay.

Kirsty Peebles, founder of NewsDirect, said the firm had decided to take advantage of a UK government-backed scheme that offers companies £3,000 vouchers to boost their broadband, and chose a third-party internet service provider.

The order was accepted by Openreach on 10 July 2014, and Peebles told Scotland on Sunday: “We’re still sitting on the same connection we had a year ago. Openreach has been a catalogue of disasters, with an inability to manage their contractors. It’s hugely frustrating how long this has taken.”

Peebles said NewsDirect had “cash in the bank” for four graduate jobs “but we can’t hire until we have confidence” that the issue will be solved.

NewsDirect is based off the Royal Mile at Tweeddale Court, also home to The List. Simon Dessain, chief executive of the entertainment guide, said: “We’re a digital business and it’s absolutely having an impact.”

Openreach is responsible for copper and fibre connections between homes and businesses and BT’s exchanges, and regulator Ofcom last week said it was looking at whether spinning out the business may be the best way of improving competition in the sector.

An Openreach spokesman said: “This work has been blighted by a catalogue of delays, including blocked underground ducting, equipment failure and the challenging nature of the site. We’ve had to re-plan the route after problems with manhole covers and complaints about noise from residents which halted the work as we tried to repair or replace them. As a result, our planners are currently working on another re-route to avoid those areas where we’ve encountered problems.

“We’re sorry there have been so many unexpected and ­highly unusual delays.”

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