BT refusing to fix faults

Once again we are at the point of BT refusing to fix a fault unless we book a Special Faults Investigation (SFI) engineer.

This happens every few years - BT keep juggling their definition of fault repair in various ways, trying to somehow make it a chargeable service even though it is clearly part of the broadband services we buy that they investigate and fix faults.

The latest fiasco, as I have blogged before, is BT plc t/a BT Wholesale have stated that SFI is an optional service provided by BT plc t/a Openreach which they make available to us. They have gone on to say that an SFI engineers sole job (though he may choose to do more) is to test the line to SIN349, and charge us if the line meets SIN349. He does have the job to fix the line if it does not meet SIN 349 though.

SIN 349 is the technical spec for the copper pair for telephone use - it is not even a spec for broadband, so such a service makes no sense as something we would every want to buy. Also, we can test a line to SIN 349 for free from the exchange end tests and it would be unusual for these to disagree with a test on site by an engineer.

The problem is that BT have no process for actually fixing broadband faults - it is either a phone line fault and fixed by the line provider part of BT, or it is a broadband fault at which point they offer the option of a pointless SFI service that will only test/fix a phone line fault rather than any means to fix a broadband fault.

So we have the argument over and over again.

What would be especially amusing this time, if it was not causing delay and inconvenience for us and our customer, is that BT are insisting we book an SFI engineer for a PPP fault on an FTTP service.

FTTP is fibre to the premises. I don't mean like "Virgin fibre optic cable", I mean actual real fibre optic cable that actually goes to the house. Not a copper pair. So insisting we send someone to test the  "copper pair" to SIN349 is just farcical.

I do despair at BT some times.

P.S. 24 hours of nothing happening, and finally some progress.

P.P.S. They finally got an engineer out, changed the ONT and upgraded its software and then cleared the fault as no BT fault - I bet we get charged! Good news is customer is on line.


  1. Surely it's worth A&A taking the hit, booking the visit and then demanding the test results to prove SIN349 compliance? Purely for comedy value is nothing else.

  2. So out of curiosity is SIN 506 the optical equivalent or is there really not one?

    1. There will be a SIN, not sure if there is any "SFI" for it.

  3. I am having a similar problem with Zen FTTP. Intermittent, lengthy, PPP drops on FTTP connection - blinking PON and no LOS on ONT.

    I wonder if there is a wider FTTP problem at the moment. I'd be curious to know which exchange you are seeing this on?

    (Zen tried to make me agree upfront to be liable for potential charges even before the fault had been investigated; it's taken three escalations to smooth that out.)

  4. Stepping back slightly, isn't the problem that BT plc t/a Openreach have no way of testing an xDSL installation - either remotely, or at the premises ?

    If an Openreach technician were to arrive at a customer's premises with a known working telephone service, (s)he could try pointing a browser at www.revk.uk: if the content is displayed then the xDSL is working; but if the content isn't displayed then Openreach don't know what to do. In the absence of a demarcation point on xDSL installations Openreach will just bounce the problem to the ISP - presumably the ISP is supposed to provide a known-working modem/router in an attempt to isolate the fault. The ISP can then tell Openreach that they've isolated the fault to Openreach's network, and Openreach can still be unable to test the service.

    Perhaps BT plc t/a Openreach should be compelled when providing a new xDSL service to state to the ISP that the service has not be tested as working, and in fact cannot be tested as working. Then the ISP could refuse to pay Openreach for the installation as it has not be tested as working.


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