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It’s difficult to give a clear answer on timescales as there are a number of factors which could affect a fix, including:
When an issue's reported, it might not be immediately obvious where the fault lies. It could be due to the mast, the equipment attached to it, the power supply, the cabling that connects it to our network (which is sometimes leased from a third party) or even a controller several miles away.
Our engineers have to trace the fault via a process of elimination.
The weather can impact our services. Things like high winds, heavy rain or frozen conditions could make it unsafe for our engineers to carry out their work. Rest assured that as soon as the conditions mean they can safely access it, we'll resume work.
Permission to access a site
We need to place our sites in locations that provide maximum coverage which often means putting them in locations owned by third parties. To gain access to these sites, we have to get their permission and this can sometimes take time if the landlord is difficult to reach.
Nature can pose a challenge to our network in a number of ways. For example, trees can fall over, damaging equipment or the power cables serving a site.
Trees can also cause problems with something referred to as "line of sight". Some of our sites are connected to the rest of our network via a microwave link rather than cables and if a tree grows in the way of the link, it's possible that the link can stop working. We then have to seek permission to prune the trees, which can take some time depending on who owns them.
We can also be impacted by wildlife, particularly birds, nesting on our sites. Birds such as kestrels and falcons are protected, meaning we have to wait until eggs have hatched and the birds have flown the nest before we can gain access. This can mean a delay before we can make the necessary repairs.
It’s also been known for the occasional cow to chew through a cable!
Once the source of an issue is identified, we may need to source specific parts to fix the problem. Some parts are more readily available than others, but we'll always work as fast as we can to get and install them.
Another thing to consider
Of course, we’re always updating and improving our network to make your signal stronger and your data speeds faster. We currently spend over £2.5 million per day on our network.
We try to make any network improvements overnight to minimise any impact. However a significant amount of maintenance work must take place during the working day, to ensure the safety of our engineering team. In these cases, we work extremely hard to get things back to normal as soon as possible.
Most problems on our network are sorted before you know it. But a small number may take longer. We appreciate your patience while we try to sort things out. In the meantime, we hope this has given you a bit of an insight, into the world of a mobile network.