Alan Reid, MP for Argyll and Bute MP, chaired a Scottish Affairs Committee hearing into telecommunications in rural Scotland, with an emphasis on the problems experienced over the winter, and he wasn't that impressed.
BT had declared MBORC (matters beyond our reasonable control) last December due to the lightning strikes. This allowed them to avoid fines for delays in carrying out repairs and for missing appointments.
Mr Reid said, "It seems when BT declares MBORC all standards go out of the window. There appears to be no incentive to carry out repairs within a quick period of time; BT Openreach is a monopoly in rural Scotland and if it declares MBORC there are no fines,"
He interrogated Brendan Dick, Director of BT Scotland, on the long wait that many people in Argyll & Bute experienced for their phones to be repaired following lightning strikes last winter. Some people had to wait two months to get their phone repaired.
Mr Dick was adamant the company had "pulled out all the stops" with 350 extra engineers brought into the area from across the UK, to help restore services in a situation "I've not seen before in my working life".
He said that BT are “well through the backlog” and expect to be “back where we should be” by the end of the month. He added that the lightning strikes had posed a “significant challenge” and “a once in a generation event”.
Mr Dick was adamant that they had done all they could to repair the faults as quickly as possible. Under questioning from Mr Reid, he said that they could not employ more engineers just in case they were needed once in a generation.
"The BT director said this winter had been ‘a once in a generation event' let's hope the weather agrees with him," said Mr Reid.