Openreach is getting ready for the worst of the winter weather after stocking up on thousands of snow shoes, snow socks for vehicle tyres, bags of salt and litres of screenwash.
Lessons learned from dealing with extreme conditions during recent years has seen the UK’s largest telephone and broadband network invest in huge amounts of winter weather equipment so its engineers can remain on the road.
So far the seasonal shopping list includes: 62,000 kilos of rock salt; 1,700 snow shovels; 3,400 ice and snow grips for footwear; 3,500 sets of snow socks for van tyres; 20,000 litres of screenwash; and 20,000 de-icer sprays.
Openreach’s Director of Operations in the North, Paul McGinlay, said: “It’s impossible to predict what kind of winter we’re going to have, but we’re doing everything we can to prepare for the worst it can offer. Our engineers are out and about in all conditions, whether that’s fixing and maintaining the network, or working on some of our latest full fibre builds.
“Making sure they have access to the latest winter weather kit is not only important to help them do their job, but also essential to make sure they can stay safe, particularly in snow and ice. Our network covers some of the most remote places in the North East so this is something that’s really important to us.
“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 a strong focus and investment in locations which have proved susceptible to storms and wild weather in recent winters. A fleet of 4×4 vehicles is strategically placed around the UK to reach isolated and extremely rural communities quickly.
The winter readiness plans are being supported by a record level of recruitment. Across the North East, around 1,100 people are employed by Openreach, most of them engineers. And that team is expanding, after it was announced earlier this year that more than 70 new engineers are being recruited.
Openreach provides the biggest telephone and broadband network in the UK, passing more than 31.8 million premises, and used by hundreds of service providers such as BT, Sky and TalkTalk – supporting 300 million telephone calls and 350 million internet connections every day.
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 visiting the Openreach website and using the reporting damage or safety problems page, or by calling 0800 023 2023.