Without so much as a by your wayleave
Russell Conway learns there's a long wait for faster communications
Law firms depend on email communication. Post is a thing of the past and I suspect the DX may soon wither away as electronic communications take hold.
I have a BT broadband line which works well and is relatively fast, although not quite as fast as I would like. Risk assessment of our firm’s broadband needs took us in the direction of having a second line just in case the BT line went down; having no incoming or outgoing email is rather frightening.
So we chose Virgin broadband, which was stunningly fast, good value, and very cheap to install. I was a bit surprised to find that the person in charge of the installation was based in Manila. But we live in a global economy and what could possibly go wrong?
That was a year ago. I have still not had the Virgin broadband installed.
The process started with a couple of visits from engineers who peered into ceiling voids, muttered about cabling, and looked anxiously at our comms room.
I knew at once what the problem was: they would need a wayleave agreement from our landlord. But curiously I heard nothing more from my new friend in Manila. He seemed blissfully unaware of the wayleave process.
Another engineer came and looked once again around our offices. And then it all went into a form of hibernation. Silence. Virgin broadband was like the proverbial hedgehog sleeping through the winter.
After about four months, the chap in Manila told me we would need a wayleave agreement. I politely pointed out that this was obvious as my offices are on the second floor of a large office block and bringing copper cable in from outside would not be possible without the landlord’s permission.
I would have to pay my landlord’s solicitors’ costs for that, which I duly did. Documentation was prepared and after about three months the wayleave was signed. Surely now we would get our broadband? What else could go wrong?
But no. The broadband is situated (so I am told) in a green junction box over a small side road. Digging of the road and pavement would be required. The permission of the local authority would be needed and applications would have to be made. No work could take place until those permissions had been signed off. That would all take time.It is now about a year since I agreed to purchase the broadband package from Virgin. I still do not have it.
It has been rather bizarre. Broadband is all about speed. We live in an IT-obsessed world with instant communications and we are all used to things happening immediately. That appears not to be the case with broadband installation.
I am left reflecting upon a situation where a very simple request for a service has been delayed for a year and nobody really seems to care.
Can I complain? Is there an ombudsman for disappointed broadband customers?
Perhaps I should have realised that in these days of instant communication, we are still reliant on digging holes in the road.
Russell Conway is senior partner at Oliver Fisher