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Openreach stocks up for winter to keep Scotland connected

Press release   •   Dec 27, 2018 10:00 GMT

Engineers Leah Harvey, Paul Mitchell, Jason Carrington and Sajjad Abowath are ready for winter.

Openreach is stocking up on thousands of snow shoes, salt and screenwash to make sure millions of people stay connected in the event of severe weather this winter.

Lessons learned from dealing with extreme weather over the last few winters has seen the UK’s digital network business invest in record amounts of stock this year to keep its engineers on the road.

So far the seasonal shopping list includes: 78,000 kilos of rock salt; 1,500 snow shovels; 6,300 ice and snow grips for footwear; 2,050 sets of snow socks for van tyres; 27,800 litres of screenwash; 29,700 half litre de-icer sprays; and 3,550 kilos of salt solution for de-icing frozen manholes.

Fraser Rowberry, Openreach customer service director for Scotland, said: “We’ve been working to minimise the potential for service disruption as we head into the season which brought us heavy snowfall followed by the ‘Beast from the East’ last year.

“We’ve been stocking up on essentials like ice grips for shoes so that the UK’s largest team of engineers on the road can keep working whatever the weather, to maintain our phone and broadband network and continue with our ambitious programme to roll-out fibre broadband across the country.

“We’d also urge people to alert us if they spot any damage to our network, like dangling cables or broken poles, so we can crack on with repairs. When mother nature does come calling, we’ll be ready and able to fight back.”

As well as stocking up on supplies, Openreach has placed increased focus and investment in geographic hotspots which have proved susceptible to storms and wild weather in recent winters, including Wales, Wessex and Scotland, in particular the Highlands and Islands. A fleet of 100 4x4 vehicles has been strategically placed around the UK to reach isolated communities quickly.

Contingency plans were also in place for November’s Black Friday – when Openreach sees a significant increase in orders as shoppers take advantage of service providers’ deals – and to boost ground force engineering numbers during public holidays at Christmas and New Year.

The winter readiness plans will be supported by a record level of recruitment with 3,500 new engineers joining Openreach this year, including around 400 in Scotland.

Openreach provides the telephone and broadband network used by hundreds of service providers such as Sky, TalkTalk and BT. Its fibre broadband network is the biggest in the UK, passing more than 27 million premises, including 2.5 million in Scotland.

Anyone spotting any damage to the Openreach network following bad weather this winter, like loose, snapped or dangling cables, damaged telephone poles or missing manhole covers, can report it by calling 0800 023 2023.

About Openreach

Openreach is Britain’s digital network business.

We’re 30,400 people who connect homes, mobile phone masts, schools, shops, banks, hospitals, libraries, broadcasters, governments and businesses - large and small - to the world.

Our mission is to build the best possible network, with the highest quality service, making sure that everyone in Britain can be connected.

We work on behalf of more than 600 communications providers like SKY, TalkTalk, Vodafone, and BT, and our fibre broadband network is the biggest in the UK, passing more than 27 million premises. We’re also the platform for Britain’s thriving digital economy, which is the largest in the G20.

We’re working hard to give people the speeds they need to run and enjoy their daily lives. Over the last decade, we’ve invested more than £11 billion into our network and we now manage more than 160 million kilometres of cable stretching from Scotland to Cornwall, from Wales to the east coast. And we’re continuing to take that network further - making superfast broadband speeds available to thousands more homes and businesses every week.

Openreach is a wholly owned and independently governed division of the BT Group, and it is a highly regulated business, with more than 90 per cent of our revenues generated from services that are regulated by Ofcom and any company can access our products under the same prices, terms and conditions.

For the year ended 31 March 2018, we reported revenues of £5.1bn.

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