Home / News / Internet News / BBC Online Crashes For An Hour

BBC Online Crashes For An Hour

David Gilbert


BBC Online Crashes For An Hour

At around 11pm last night, there was a total outage of all the BBC websites, which lasted for an hour – and now a row has erupted between the Beeb and Siemens, its IT contractors.

Editor of the BBC News website, Steve Herrmann posted a blog about the outage saying that a problem occurred with the routers, which direct people to the websites. He added that the BBC has a back-up system in place to handle such an eventuality but this also failed and resulted in people being unable to access the BBC online content for an hour. Some internal BBC services were also affected by the outage. With people unable to access the site, where else were they going to turn but Twitter and the micro-blogging site was inundated with tweets from people wondering what the problem was. Even the popular Queen_UK account, had its say: “One has had the BBC switched back on. Keep calm and carry on.”

A row however emerged this morning when the BBC website reported on the outage quoting an internal email sent to the corporation by Siemens staff explaining what happened. The BBC report, which has now been amended to remove any mention of the memo, paraphrased the contents of the email saying: “Or, in layman's terms, they turned it off and back on again." Siemens executive are said to be furious that the email was made public. The contents of the email, which have been seen by MediaGuardian.co.uk, go on to explain in more detail the cause of the problem.

"Cause of issue: Faulty Switch...Services Impacted: Everything. Siemens network engineers remotely powered down equipment at a second Internet connection at Telehouse Docklands. This got things back up and running again. They then isolated the core router in Telehouse Docklands, and restored power to it. Once power was restored and the router was running in a satisfactory way, they reconnected to the internet and BBC networks in a controlled manner. Further investigations are ongoing to identify the root cause of this fault.”

These comments have been replaced on the BBC report with comments from the BBC controller of digital distribution, Richard Cooper, who said the problem lay with the way users are directed to BBC websites: "For the more technically minded, this was a failure in the systems that perform two functions. The first is the aggregation of network traffic from the BBC's hosting centres to the internet. The second is the announcement of 'routes' onto the internet that allows BBC Online to be 'found'.”

Source: BBC and MediaGuardian.co.uk


March 30, 2011, 6:12 pm

You do realise that the Queen_UK account on twitter is a spoof account right?

David Gilbert

March 30, 2011, 6:51 pm

@Max Power Ah yes, we had spotted that alright.

Michael Kilbane

March 30, 2011, 7:28 pm

It's funny about this I just tried to go on the BBC Click website to recommend an app and couldn't get though. It just keep saying the website doesn't exist.


March 30, 2011, 7:54 pm

This does raise the deep philosophical question: If no one can report the 'News', does 'News' still exist? Personally, I think it was Dave from IT support who tripped over the plug.


March 30, 2011, 8:37 pm

@lifethroughalens - funny you should mention that. Once worked at a client site where someone tripped on the plug to the UPS and 30 minutes later the servers went down....

Ala Miah

March 30, 2011, 11:44 pm

@Kaurisol not as bad as someone burning something in the microwave and causing a live show to go off air! The One Show!


March 31, 2011, 1:36 am

@Ala Miah... Someone caused The One Show to go off-air... and HOW is this a bad thing? ;P


March 31, 2011, 12:31 pm


One company I worked for had the mains power lost "Don't worry," said the IT guy. "The PCs are all on UPS's, save your data and shut down."

Unfortunately, they hadn't put any of the monitors on UPS's.

As I wasn't skilled in the ways of The Force trying to shut my PC down safely with no monitor was a bit tricky.

Martin Daler

March 31, 2011, 1:52 pm

I read the original report on the BBC New website. I rather liked the "we switched the BBC off, waited 10 seconds, then switched the BBC back on again" version of events.

comments powered by Disqus