BT has been forced to overhaul its UK wide contingency procedures after it failed to keep 250,000 regional customers online during a power outage.
The telecomms operator is now working to improve its setup, including preparing a national audit, upgrading the process for testing standby power and batteries, plus promising response times of under 30 minutes. The work was ordered by UK telecomms watchdog, Oftel.
During 12 May, 1998, BT's emergency power backup failed to reconnect the customers in based in Gloucester. Thousands of customers were unable to make calls, including 999 calls, for almost three hours.
Normally emergency generators in BT's local exchange would takeover within minutes of a power cut. However in Gloucester, both these and emergency batteries failed. The failure of battery plant and overheating of transmission equipment caused a progressive deterioration in the service, according to investigations by Oftel.
A BT spokesperson said the outage was "unprecedented" and that it has taken action to improve processes.
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