Broadband outage hits tens of thousands in East London

Tens of thousands of people in East London were left without broadband this weekend, after a third-party contractor damaged BT cables on Saturday afternoon.

Some 70 per cent of the network is already back up, but a BT spokesperson told IT PRO the firm had no idea when the rest of service would be returned. "We're hoping by the end of the day, but it's something we can't predict," he said. "It's pretty much beyond our control."

BT Openreach said in a statement it could be "some days" before services are completely restored.

All internet service providers that work with BT could potentially be affected, and have been notified by the firm. The BT spokesperson said tens of thousands of people were affected.

The cables lay 32 metres below street level in a deep underground tunnel with restricted access, meaning Openreach engineers have had difficulty fixing the problem.

"Because of the severity of the damage, the tunnel is completely blocked and to restore the cables they will need to be brought up to the surface either side of the tunnel and then routed over land through existing and new duct," said Openreach. "The new duct is being built today as we gain permission to close roads and do the necessary work."