There are some things in life that we take so much for granted that it is only when they have gone that we notice their worth. At this time of year we could be forgive for talking about the love of friends, the same pantomime which has been on the TV every year since time immemorial or even the repeating pattern of a family Christmas.
But although these all have a vital place in our hearts, this article is looking at something which is more down to earth yet potentially just as vital; the ability to keep in touch with friends, family, colleagues and clients via a reliable telephone service.
Sit in an office when the phones go down and watch the chaos as employee after employee goes through the pattern of thinking ‘while the phones are down I’ll just give x a ring’ and then the dawning realisation that no phones means no phones. Sit in a village which has had its phone service cut off, particularly one with poor mobile reception, and observe the distress as loved ones can’t be contacted and the worry as realisation dawns that if there is a fire or an illness the emergency services might as well be light years away as they can’t be reached.
It is therefore welcome news that Ofcom have announced plans to enforce a speedier repair time for telephone and broadband lines. The proposals would require Openreach to repair 80% of all faults within two days irrespective of factors such as severe weather conditions. Those faults which could not be repaired within the timeframe would be subject to monitoring and potential future intervention by Ofcom.
On the negative side, if the proposals are adopted they will not come into force until April 2016 although interim improvements will be required in the meantime. But for those businesses which rely on telephones that date is a long way off. This is why disaster planning services such as the ability to automatically divert phones to mobile or to alternate landlines are so important. Once in place it is hoped they will never be required but should builders cut through a cable or a storm bring down phone lines, it is reassuring to know that the business can continue taking orders, arranging delivery and interacting with the outside world.
We may be a crowded island but despite the number of people who work and live around us, it can be surprisingly lonely when contact is lost. Taking a few steps now can relieve that loneliness and help to keep us at the forefront of world trade.