Storm Ophelia leaves 30,000 Eir customers without internet, more expected

17 Oct 20173 Shares

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Damaged poles following a storm. Image: Aeed Bird/Shutterstock

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Storm Ophelia has left a trail of destruction across much of Ireland, including thousands of Eir customers who have lost online access.

Despite being downgraded to an ex-hurricane, Storm Ophelia did not relent in its strength for much of the country, with an estimated 450,000 homes and businesses finding themselves without power.

In addition, Eir has now confirmed that the strong winds have damaged its infrastructure, resulting in 30,000* broadband and phone customers losing service.

The most affected areas coincide with where the storm was the strongest, including the south-west, midlands and, in particular, Cork. Eir has since issued a statement saying that the largest faults in Kinsale, Co Cork, and Tralee, Co Kerry, have since been fixed.

However, it admitted that customers should be prepared for further outages today (17 October) as it tries to repair the damage.

“We expect new outages will arise today as the backup batteries currently supporting services in some exchanges and mobile sites run out of power,” Eir said.

“Eir has started to deploy up to 70 mobile generators to provide fixed and mobile services in locations that will restore services to the greatest number of customers.

“Approximately 1,200 staff are working today to assess network damage and commence repair work. Given the overhead nature of our network in rural areas, the damage is extensive and repair work will take time.

“Field technicians have, as a priority, attempted to make safe any dangerous poles or cables that have posed a public safety risk. Site access and road closures continued to pose a challenge overnight.”

Eir said that it will update customers later today on the progress of these repairs.

Other networks also report outages

Virgin Media has also reported damage to its network, albeit not to the same extent.

In a statement, it said: “Our network and tech ops teams have been working around the clock to restore service where it’s feasible and safe to do so. While some cable outages correspond with the power outages, a small minority are due to damage to our networks.

“We are still assessing the full extent of storm damage across our network but can confirm that, due to the quick response by Virgin Media staff, we maintained connectivity to the vast majority of our customer base.”

Siliconrepublic.com has contacted other network providers for the status of their networks following Ophelia and will update accordingly.

Updated, 10.36am and 3.14pm, 17 October 2017: Vodafone has since issued a statement on disruption to its own service.

It said: “Storm Ophelia predominantly impacted the southern counties, leaving 450,000 ESB customers without electricity. Following this damage, a number of our customers remain without power, TV, broadband or voice services.

“Vodafone mobile customers have experienced the largest impacts in areas most affected so far by Storm Ophelia, including counties Cork, Kerry, Galway, Limerick, Carlow, Laois and Offaly. Fixed customers have seen a loss of services mostly focused in counties Cork, Galway, Kerry and Limerick.

“In preparation for the storm, Vodafone put in place a number of preventive measures to manage the impact to our network and customers, including backup mobile power generators and additional field services that were put into play during yesterday’s storm where weather conditions allowed. We are continuing work with our partners to have services restored as soon as possible.”

*Eir has since issued an update to say that 150,000 homes are now affected by the outage.

Colm Gorey is a journalist with Siliconrepublic.com

editorial@siliconrepublic.com