A BT exchange in Paddington flooded early on the morning of 31st March. There was extensive disruption to phone and broadband services in the immediate vicinity, including phone lines to the Royal Free Hospital; as well as a knock-on effect on other exchanges. The floodwater was cleared by the morning of 1st April enabling BT to begin restoration work.
It should be stressed that incidents like these – affecting the public phone network – are extremely rare. However disruptions to the connection between customers and their exchange (the so-called ‘last mile’) and internal problems with private exchanges and switchboards are relatively common. In the most recent Chartered Management Institute Business Continuity survey, 20% of respondents reported suffering a loss of telecoms during the last 12 months.
Fortunately there is much that you can do to mitigate these events. Solutions range from the cheap and cheerful (eg keeping a couple of spare mobile phones in the office) to the very sophisticated (eg automated phone redirection services and satellite phone handsets). As with any other aspect of Business Continuity planning, the first stage should be an analysis of how loss of telecoms would impact your business. It is only then that you can calculate how much it is worth spending on mitigating the risk.