Telephone firm left Sheffield residents cut off

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Dozens of households across north Sheffield have been left disconnected from landline telephone and broadband internet for a fortnight.

An underground cable fault has caused the problems, which started on August 6.

Customers of BT, Sky and Talk Talk were affected in the Parson Cross and Sheffield Lane Top area.

A Crowland Road resident, whose landline and broadband are provided by Talk Talk, said: “The situation has been completely unacceptable – we have been given no information.

“Remember that people might not be able to call emergency services and that people’s emergency call systems will not be working while the phones are down.”

The woman, who did not wish to be named, said: “After a week with no information about when the lines would be fixed, I wrote a four-page letter of complaint to Talk Talk.

“I doubt they will respond, however I expect they will take the direct debit for the bill when it’s due at the end of the month.”

She added: “The phone companies could actually be putting people’s lives at risk because if people have those alarm systems – where they wear a button pendant around their neck to summon a remote emergency call service – it can only activate the emergency call centre if the phone is working.

“The system relies on a landline. If a household doesn’t have a mobile there would be no way to dial 999.”

Residents said they had been given four dates when repairs were supposed to have been carried out.

Southey Ward Labour councillor Gill Furniss said she was concerned to hear about the problems faced by residents in the area affected by the faulty exchange.

Coun Furniss told The Star: “I am absolutely disgusted to hear that the people of the area have been without broadband internet for such a long time. In this day and age, people are very dependent on it for everyday life and I am also very concerned that some people may not have been able to contact City Wide Alarms or the emergency services.

“I will be taking up this matter with David Blunkett, our MP, and ask him to contact the regulator, Ofcom.”

Talk Talk said the company apologised for the problems faced by residents in the north Sheffield area.

A spokesman said: “We are very sorry that Ms Best and some other customers in the Attercliffe area of Sheffield are experiencing disruption because of a network fault affecting customers of all providers. BT Openreach engineers are working to fix the line but we understand this will include recabling, which can take a while.

“We are always working to improve our service and investing in our network, but unfortunately from time to time problems can still occur.

“Customers are advised to contact us to discuss having calls diverted to mobiles and other ways of staying in touch until the fault is fixed.”

A BT spokeswoman said: “This loss of service is due to an underground cable fault. Engineers attended and found 75 metres of underground cable needed to be renewed. We currently have 11 reported faults.

“We did get to work as quickly as possible, however work has been drastically delayed by severe blockages in the underground ducting.

“We had to spend a significant amount of time clearing the blockages Since then we have been trying to clear these blockages. There was also an issue with access to private land which has now been resolved.

“The positive news is that all the heavy engineering work is now complete and we are expecting all service to be restored by the end of the week at the very latest.

“We are very sorry for any inconvenience and disruption caused by this loss of telephone service.”