Suffolk: Frustration for thousands over BT phone line failure

IPSWICH: Businesses are today out of pocket after phone lines across the county went down for more than two hours yesterday.

The problem started at about 1pm and meant that thousands of people across Suffolk were unable to receive or make calls for much of the afternoon while engineers worked to urgently resolve the problem.

BT said the issue had been caused by a major fault at the Ipswich exchange, which affected more than 65,000 of their customers.

A spokesman for the company said: “We had a switch at the Ipswich Town exchange which failed just after 1pm and mainly affected customers in Ipswich, but some users in surrounding places such as Woodbridge, Felixstowe, Halstead, Framlingham, Aldeburgh and Earls Colne would have lost service.”

Another company spokesperson said that the work had been carried out quickly and efficiently, while apologising for any inconvenience caused.

Power was reinstated and switched back on at around 3.20pm, however the impact of the work was devastating for Ipswich-based call centre, Call Connection.

Graeme Kalbraier, managing director of the company, told the Evening Star that he had lost thousands of pounds during the two and a half hours without a connection.

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He said: “It affected us massively. We are a call centre and we would have had at least 150 people in the office unable to help our customers.

“We rely on the phones and BT, who provide the service. This meant that we were unable to provide a service for our partners and customers during that two and a half hour period.

“As well as that, we lost thousands of pounds – we normally take on 1,000 calls an hour.”

Meanwhile, some residents who were trying to call 999 for assistance would have been left unable to make contact with the emergency services without use of a mobile phone.

Representatives for Suffolk Police and the ambulance service said that while they were not overly affected, some people living in the relevant areas would have been unable to place emergency calls.

A police spokesman said: “Some people would have been unable to reach 999 if they were living in the areas affected by the issues with the phone lines. We, ourselves, did not have any issues.”

The ambulance service was only affected in the Ipswich area for about 15 minutes.

n Were you affected by yesterday’s phone saga? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk