BT Openreach warns of riot-induced backlog

BT engineers will likely have to reschedule thousands of appointments to provide broadband or landline services as a result of rioting in the UK

BT Openreach, the infrastructure arm of BT, has warned that its engineers look likely to be pulled off thousands of broadband and landline installation jobs as a result of the UK riots.

Openreach, which looks after access to BT's network, said on Thursday that some disruption to service is likely in areas where police or fire authorities have barred access, or where it believes that the risk to workers is too high.

"There has been some impact on the service we are able to provide our customers, including missed appointments, where our engineers have been unable to access affected areas," it said in a press statement.

In these areas, the BT division will focus its resources on repairs, rather than on provision of new connections, it said in an update sent to its customers, which include ISPs. It estimated that between 500 and 1,000 jobs will be left outstanding each day for the rest of the week, and that engineers will have to reschedule appointments for this work.

"Work in the late afternoons, evenings and at night in parts of London and in a number of town and city centres, continues to be severely restricted until law and order is fully restored," Openreach said in the update. "In all cases we aim to meet our commitments as quickly as possible when it is safe to do so."

Riots broke out in London on Saturday and then spread over ensuing days to other cities across the UK, including Birmingham, Manchester, Nottingham and West Bromwich. At least 44 police officers have been injured during the disturbances, and three people have died.

Openreach said it is applying the status of Matters Beyond Our Reasonable Control (MBORC), where repairs are prioritised, to areas where the disturbances have caused damage to BT's network or where there are official access restrictions. However, a spokeswoman for Openreach told ZDNet UK that the damage to the network is minor.

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