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 conditions over the last few winters has seen the UK’s largest telephone and broadband network invest in record amounts of winter weather 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.
Openreach’s Director of Operations in the West Midlands, Huw Jones, said: “We’ve been working to minimise the potential for 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 our engineers can keep working through most of any bad weather, maintaining our phone and broadband network and continuing with our ambitious programme to roll-out fibre broadband across the country.
“We’d also urge anyone 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 as ready and prepared as we can be to fight back.”
As well as stocking up on supplies, Openreach has placed increased focus and investment in locations which have proved susceptible to storms and wild weather in recent winters. A fleet of 100 4×4 vehicles has been strategically placed around the UK to reach isolated and extremely rural communities quickly.
The winter readiness plans is being supported by a record level of recruitment. Across the West Midlands, more than 2,500 people are employed by Openreach, most of them engineers. And that team is expanding, after it was announced last year that more than 200 new engineers are being recruited.
Openreach provides the biggest telephone and broadband network in the UK, passing more than 27 milion premises, and used by hundreds of service providers such as Sky, TalkTalk and BT.
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.
Duncan is a technology professional with over 20 years experience of working in various IT roles. He has a interest in cyber security, and has a wide range of other skills in radio, electronics and telecommunications.