Business Skills – how to survive internet outage in 2022

This week was going so well to start with, all our programmes, apps and business modules working as expected when at 11:14 on Monday morning, everything stopped working. How could we hope to survive this internet outage?

We called our service provider, BT, who told us that yes, there was an outage, and they would log the event and keep us informed on progress. In the meantime as we had no internet access and our business was to all intents and purposes, closed, we agreed to open a complaint with them in order to be compensated for loss of business.

That was it for the day, business closed. The next day it was all still dead, we had an orange light on the router instead of blue, and two red lights on the cable entry box – we have fibre to the premises here, which usually works a treat.

Later that morning when we were out running errands and drove past our local BT cabinet, to see the telegraph pole broken in half and the base littered with hub caps. Aha! That may be the cause of the problem.

As indeed it was. Someone had lost control of their vehicle and had crashed into the pole. This had dragged the cable down leaving us, together with 120 of our neighbours homes and businesses, all with no internet access. Ooops. Big Oops.

An easy thing to fix we hear you say? Well in theory yes, BT have indeed been placing and replacing telegraph poles for probably over 100 years by now, so they should know what they are doing?

In practice no, it was not an easy fix. The problem, and reason for the continued delay is simple, it’s the world we live in today. To replace the pole you need to control the traffic, which means traffic lights, which means permission from the council to close the road, and then you need manpower to control the lights, the roadworks and the pole erection. Then you also need a specialist team of engineers who are trained in the black arts of fibre-optic cable installation and maintenance – it’s no longer a case of two twisty cables and a bit of silver paper from a cigarette packet.

In the meantime we had a business to run. So what to do? Luckily our owner, being a practical lady, reminded us that if you activate the “personal hotspot” on the office mobile, it should allow the office computers to access the net and start working again – admin, RFQ’s orders and quotes for our trading division, Xero for accounts, cloud-phone business line and so on, you get the picture.

This was great and all our office applications came back on-line, even the cloud-phone sputtered into life occasionally but then we noticed how fast the batteries were draining, and how much of our monthly data allowance was being gobbled up using the mobiles as a 4G hotspot.

Yesterday the complaints team from BT called us with an update, it’s probably going to be the end of next week before everything is up and running seamlessly again. They are of course delighted that we have figured out a go-round to stay active, but cannot possibly comment on our polite request to ensure that we are not faced with exorbitant mobile data download charges until the fault is fully solved and the “negotiations” over compensation are finalised

There are a couple of morals to this story:

  • I am so lucky to have a clever wife who understands tech. sometimes better than I do myself and is closely involved with our business.
  • We are so lucky to have Apple hardware that makes the connection – iMac- mobile-internet possible via BT’s 4G service. We really would be dead in the water without this
  • We are so glad we chose to leave the server in it’s own secure location, in a bunker near Reading where it is monitored 24/7 and so has been ENTIRELY UNAFFECTED by our local difficulties

So to anyone who had a bad experience trying to contact us this week, we are truly sorry and have really done our best to keep things running. We’ve even managed to load a few thousand more parts to the database. We still have a backlog of around 55,000 more to get loaded before month end, so if you still have parts to list, or a listing that needs updating please send it on over to us as soon as you can.

We’ll keep doing what we have been doing for the last twelve years. Loading parts, listing parts and oiling the wheels of the marine industry.