Sunday 6 July 2014

I predict a riot....

At some point on Friday evening, there was an explosion and a burst of fire from a manhole cover underneath a West Bridgford street.  Shortly after that, Virgin Media lost coverage across this part of town.  For us, that meant we lost internet.

Service wasn't restored until around 10pm on Sunday evening.  That meant a whole weekend without broadband.  I know.... how did we survive, right?  It wasn't so bad when my phone had a 4G signal, but when service degraded to GPRS, it was like living in the Dark Ages.  I was a bit annoyed when Virgin updated their online status this morning to say that everything had been fixed, when clearly it had not.  I rang them to see what was going on and was immediately given a £5 credit to cover the loss of service... compensation that apparently I would not have received if I hadn't rung them up.  But, you know, these things happen.  There's not a lot even the best prepared company could do to counter an underground explosion that takes out their service right?  That might take a while to fix, no?

Apparently not everyone in this leafy, affluent suburb is as understanding as me.  Apparently, the engineers working on the problem were being abused in the street as they tried to restore service.  This was no laughing matter, according to commentators on a local newswire:

Mike Buckley said – “For those thinking this isn’t a big deal, you don’t have a house full of moaning kids or rely on the internet for work, or in my case both. Virgin have been appalling dealing with this and while I’ll not bash the engineers I can see why people are frustrated. I’ll be cancelling ASAP.”

Well, thanks for that insight, Mike Buckley.

1) Middle class problem.
2) Abusing engineers working on the issue doesn't help anyone
3) Really, what could Virgin do? How would Sky or someone else have been any different in the same circumstances?  This is actually the first sustained outage from Virgin I can remember in years.

Honestly, I know that it's annoying to lose internet and things for a couple of days, but really it just shows how much we all take the service for granted that we just expect it to be there.  I'm always reminded how good our fibreoptic broadband service is when I visit my parents in Northamptonshire or my friends in Oxford.  We have it pretty good.

How thin our veneer of civilisation is: all it takes is a broadband outage or a fuel shortage or something like that and within hours people are reaching for their pitchforks and flaming torches and forming lynch mobs.



Coverage has been restored, and the good people of West Bridgford have resumed the on-demand downloading of their favourite television programmes, but I don't think things cab ever be quite the same again.


  1. Question for you: What are your internet speeds like over there? We had the choice of either fiber optic or cable internet access here, and went with cable because, for comparable speeds, it was cheaper. We're currently paying $67/month (approx. 39£) for 50Mbps service.

  2. I think we have up to 100mps, dan

  3. And, including the phone package, we pay £39 a month. I think the fibre optic alone is about £30. Like I say, we do okay with this service, on the whole.

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