Copper cable theft wipes out broadband

Broadband users in Kent become the latest victims of a growing trend to steal copper cabling

Barry Collins
26 Apr 2010

Thousands of people in Kent are without broadband access after becoming the latest victims of copper cabling theft.

Thieves in Farningham, Kent reportedly severed six cables in the area as they stole 3km of copper wiring. The theft has left more than 2,000 people without telephone or broadband access, as BT works "around the clock" to repair the damage.

Copper has become a precious commodity in the past couple of years, shooting up in price by more than 300% and making it an attractive target for criminals.

In October, hundreds of residents in Berwick, Sussex were left without broadband after thieves stole more than 1km of copper cabling. Attacks have also been reported in Staffordshire, Surrey and Cambridgeshire over the past year.

Hapless thieves are even reported to have disrupted customers of Virgin Media earlier this year, after mistakenly ripping out the company's fibre-optic cabling, believing it to be copper.

BT admits that copper theft is becoming a growing and expensive problem. "Copper theft is a serious crime that is on the rise," the company told The Mail on Sunday recently. "In recent months, BT has been the victim of a number of incidents of copper theft from our telephone network, which have sometimes led to service problems for customers in those areas."

Ironically, most broadband customers would normally be glad to see the back of the speed-sapping copper wiring, which is largely responsible for slow connections on long lines.

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