Preparing network for winter weather

Preparations are stepped up across Angus to prepare the county’s telephone and broadband network for possible disruption this winter.

Mark Dowie
Thursday, 1st December 2022, 12:05pm
Preparing network for winter weather

Openreach, the UK’s largest phone and broadband network, is warning that there could be disruption if there is a repeat of the 2021/22 storm season, which saw several named storms hit Scotland, including three in just one week in February.

Since then, Openreach has been reviewing its approach to extreme weather, making sure its 3000 Scottish engineers have the best possible specialist winter kit looking at whether the network can be re-routed in areas that have proved particularly vulnerable to storms in recent years and reviewing how information on any disruption is shared with communities.

Jenni Macfarlane, service delivery director, said: “It’s impossible to predict exactly what kind of winter is ahead of us, but we’re doing everything we can to prepare for it. Last winter, our Scottish network was repeatedly lashed by storms like Arwen, Barra, Corrie and Malik.

"In just 24 hours in February, Storms Dudley, Eunice and Franklin caused thousands of damage reports to flood in and more than 100 poles in Scotland needed to be replaced as a result, among 750 across the UK.

“It presented us with an opportunity to review and make changes to our approach and I’m confident we’re in a better place heading into this winter.

"We’re more co-ordinated across our business and have even closer working relationships with organisations like the power companies and the Met Office.”

“I’d urge anyone who’s vulnerable to let their broadband company know, so they can be prioritised during repairs. It’s not always possible due to the way the network works, but we’ll do our best.”

As part of annual winter weather preparations, Openreach is stocking up on essential items so its engineers can stay safe and warm on the road, including thousands of snowshoes, snow socks for vehicle tyres, bags of salt and litres of screenwash.

The company also has a strong focus and investment in locations which have proved susceptible to storms and wild weather in recent winters.

A fleet of 4x4 vehicles is strategically placed around the UK to reach isolated and rural communities quickly.

The company is also offering some useful tips for phone and broadband users, including:-

Tell your provider if you are vulnerable: Let your phone or broadband provider - the company you pay your bill to - know if you or a family member is vulnerable (Ofcom publishes useful guidance on this], so you’ll be prioritised, wherever possible, during any repair work.

Prepare for an outage: Make sure your mobile phone and any spare battery packs are fully charged if you know extreme weather is approaching. It could provide you with vital access to help, online services and contact with friends and family.

Report damage: Outages can happen because trees or branches hit cables and equipment. You can help us fix things faster by reporting this kind of issue directly to us online or by calling 0800 023 2023. Use a What3Words location to help us pinpoint the damage.

Further advice can be found on the Openreach website.

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