Cambridgeshire villagers 'frustrated' after month-long internet and phone line outage

Many villagers in Elsworth said they had been experiencing multiple problems with their internet and phone lines
Many villagers in Elsworth said they had been experiencing multiple problems with their internet and phone lines -Credit:CambridgeshireLive

Residents in a Cambridgeshire village have said they are "frustrated" after a month-long outage has left some of them without internet or phone lines. A number of people in Elsworth first encountered issues on Saturday, March 16.

Around 30 properties have been impacted, with locals saying they have had little to no communication with Openreach on when this might be fixed. This has led to a lot of villagers losing all means of contact, with no good mobile signal, landline or internet connection.

Others have said that the outage has had an effect on working from home. It is hoped that the issue will be fixed later this week.

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'Home workers like myself have been impacted'

Andrew Preece
Andrew Preece -Credit:Andrew Preece

Andrew Preece works from home as a technical specialist for Propulsion Software at Polestar. He said that the outage has had a huge impact on his job and that he has made multiple attempts to contact Sky and Openreach for updates.

He said: "I noticed on Saturday March 16 that the internet was very slow, so I tried restarting the router, with no effect. On Sunday, the internet had gone completely and when I checked the landline at this point, there was no dial tone.

"I reported the fault to Sky online, and got a fairly swift response saying it needed an Openreach engineer to fix, this didn't need access to my property, and it should happen within two working days. At end of the first week, I rang Sky to find out what was going on, because I was aware by then it wasn't just us.

"Openreach have closed roads in Elsworth a couple of times since, but have not fixed the problem. Openreach also refuse to talk to me directly, telling me to contact my service provider Sky, but Sky can't do any more than tell me that they are waiting on Openreach.

"I work from home four days a week, and this relies on a reliable internet link. The phone signal here is bad, but I'd previously noticed it was better upstairs, so I rigged up a phone as a hotspot and put it in a sky light in the roof - this gives me a good enough signal to do my work most of the time, though Teams calls can be problematic.

"More widely, at least one elderly resident has been left without any effective phone, as the landline had gone and the mobile phone signal is weak. I suspect this applies to a lot of others too and I also suspect other home workers like myself have been impacted."

'It's been incredibly frustrating'

Elizabeth Sim, the clerk and responsible financial officer (RFO) for Elsworth Parish Council, has been the focal point of contact for people affected in the village. She said that she had been receiving reports about the issue for the last month and also had little communication with Openreach.

She added: "Elsworth is really poorly served by mobile connection. We have a large number of residents working from home and relying on landlines, and yet they can't even get voicemail.

"I started getting reports about this a month ago and we've had very different dates on when this is going to be fixed. At least 31 properties have been affected out of 250, which, when you consider then number of people who live here, is quite a percentage of the population.

"It's been incredibly frustrating and annoying to say the least. We haven't been able to get a hold of anyone and nothing has been happening. We're hoping that we might be paid compensation, but it's worth noting that, if we do, people must report this so they're not unfairly charged for a service they haven't been able to receive."

'It's proving to be a complex repair'

Openreach are working to repair the damage
Openreach are working to repair the damage -Credit:Joe Giddens/PA Wire

A spokesperson for Openreach said: "Our engineers are working hard to replace more than 200 metres of faulty cable that’s disrupting phone and broadband services to some homes in the village of Elsworth. We’ve got temporary traffic lights in place to enable our teams to work safely and they’re making good progress.

"It’s proving to be a complex repair and we’re sorry for the time it’s taking, but we’re hoping to get everyone reconnected in the next couple of days."

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