Fibrus apologises to Mid Ulster customers left without internet coverage after Storms Isha and Jocelyn
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Mid Ulster District Councillor Gael Gildernew requested the meeting after being “inundated” with complaints from local residents in the wake of Storms Isha and Jocelyn.
The Sinn Féin representative for Clogher Valley DEA explained at the most recent full council meeting why she felt such direct contact with Fibrus representatives was needed.
“I’ve been inundated with calls from constituents regarding electricity supplies, internet supplies, water supplies and blocked roads from fallen trees.
"All agencies have been fantastic in their response to myself and other elected reps in the area, to endeavour to get people connected and roads cleared, and life back to normal, with the exception of Fibrus.
"Fibrus were contracted to ensure connectivity to the fibre network for those households most isolated in our society, and who were the last to get connected to a reliable internet service, and could not access the Openreach network.
“These residents now, like everyone else, rely on their internet access on a daily basis, and this reliance was increased by the Covid pandemic, and the need to adapt to a different way of connecting with people.
“We all need a reliable internet service for everyday tasks such as schoolwork, working from home, Zoom meetings, accessing Government supports and benefits such as Universal Credit, banking, etc.
“The world has moved into this space and anyone without a reliable internet service has been left behind.
“This week, Fibrus have refused to speak to myself and other elected reps in my area to try to regain connectivity for these households.
“This evening, there are still a huge number of houses across Clogher Valley and Mid Ulster which have no internet access.
“I would like to request that we as a council set up a meeting with Fibrus to discuss these issues, and to ensure that Fibrus put a better system in place to allow elected reps to contact them on behalf of constituents in these situations.
“Constituents who this evening still have no access restored to their internet connection, and Fibrus still refuse to speak to elected reps on their behalf, even though these households have no internet and no landlines, as these are now mostly covered by the Fibrus network too. And in these places [they have] most greatly reduced 3G and 4G coverage, if they have any at all.
“They are only able to contact Fibrus to give permission for anyone to act on their behalf.”
A spokesperson for Fibrus acknowledged the difficulties encountered by residents and elected representatives alike in getting in touch with the company following Storms Isha and Jocelyn, and stressed that the company had faced an exceptionally challenging situation.
“Fibrus would like to apologise to anyone who has had difficulty making contact with us during this unprecedented situation.
“The network infrastructure suffered extensive wind damage during storms Isha and Jocelyn, causing outage issues our teams are working tirelessly to resolve.
“The scale and complexity of the storm damage means that reconnecting premises is taking more time than we would like, but we continue to restore broadband services to hard-to-reach areas, prioritising vulnerable customers.
“We understand the importance of having a stable internet connection and take our service provision very seriously.
“Please bear with us as we deal with difficult conditions in rural, isolated areas, so that all properties may be connected as soon as possible.
“Fibrus strives to work closely with local communities, political parties and local authorities, and we would welcome the opportunity to engage with Mid Ulster District Council once all outages have been fixed.
“We recognise that customers without internet access at this time may wish to nominate another individual to contact Fibrus on their behalf, but we are bound by GDPR regulations that stipulate we cannot discuss individual accounts with non-customers.”