UK suffers ADSL glitch

Thousands at risk

Thousands of new ADSL users in the UK could have their services disrupted thanks to a glitch in BT's broadband network.

The intermittent problem concerns compatibility issues with the first and second generation Fujitsu line cards that connect each user’s ADSL line to BT’s network at their local telephone exchange.

According to Pipex, which now has more than 15,000 ADSL customers: "It has been identified that these line cards have a tendency to 'lock up' from time to time, preventing an individual user from connecting. It can take some time for BT engineers to reset the card once a fault is reported and as a side effect, the reset process may then affect service to other users in the same exchange."

BT has put temporary fixes in place ahead of a permanent solution, which should be in place early next month. However, BT has advised ISPs to delay installing new users who could be susceptible to the problem until the matter is resolved.

In a letter to ISPs Bruce Stanford, Director Broadband at BT Wholesale said: "Following the reduction in price of BT Wholesale's broadband products on the first of April, there has been a substantial increase in demand. There has also been an increase in the number of faults reported. In particular, BT Wholesale has had a significant increase in the number of end users reporting that they cannot synchronise.

"Following an investigation to identify the root cause of this fault, we have found that there are compatibility issues with the first generation and
second generation Fujitsu line cards causing some end users to lose service. We believe that these issues may affect as many as a third of new modems and a proportion of the existing base that are connected to these line cards," he said.

Andrew Ferguson of ADSLGuide the problem has been brewing over the last couple of weeks.

"Now we know why," he said, claiming that ADSL users have been pulling their hair out trying to rectify the problem.

Consumer aren't the only ones who are frustrated. Senior industry sources told The Register that they blame BT for this latest snag and claim it is yet another damaging blow to the roll-out of ADSL.

Indeed, the timing of this couldn't be worse. Many ISPs are on the verge of launching advertising campaigns funded in part by cash from BT Wholesale but are worried that they'll be advertising something they can't deliver.

A spokeswoman for BT agreed that the problem was "very unfortunate and very disappointing" but was "confident that a fix would be in place within a couple of weeks." ®

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