Keeping Britain Connected campaign launched by ISPA
Before the lockdown period officially started on 23rd March 2020 in the United Kingdom firms were rapidly shifting towards millions working from home already and there was lots of press coverage and questions being asked to whether the UK networks would cope.
By and large apart from one day of problems with one provider and a short period of time where the mobile networks were overloaded in some areas things have continued to operate and millions have been able to discover the joys and pitfalls of working from home. For those who have unfortunately lost there job or being furloughed broadband will have played a big part in keeping a family entertained or for those living on their own their main source of contact with other humans.
In light of the importance of the telecoms sector workers were designated key workers. Maintaining the existing networks and connecting new sites such as the Nightingale hospitals and other temporary locations has been crucial. Additionally roll-outs have continued and while some operators have not been doing the final install for most homes others have worked with strict social distancing rules to get people connected to better services or switching on from the street services for vulnerable residents. Others will have been working on infrastructure that is invariably invisible as its located in anonymous datacentre buildings and fixing faults before they have actually become a problem.
The Internet Service Providers' Association has decided to celebrate some of the key workers from the industry and while those mentioned are a sample of the people and firms, the message of thanks for all those working to keep everyone connected spreads to every person involved.
The ISPA website press release has individual links to each individual case so you can see a lot more than just the short snippet covered here.
- Virgin Media – Denny Smith, Customer Services Adviser. Although working remotely, Denny has had to continue to support vulnerable customers at this difficult time and maintain communication with his team and the rest of the Virgin Media broadband team to ensure that customers maintain connected.
- Sky – James Cawston, Broadband Technical Expert. James’ role involves going into people’s homes and identifying faults with their broadband, and this has of course changed dramatically because of COVID-19.
- Openreach – A selection of anonymous case studies where key workers have faced abuse, both 5G and non 5G related. Additionally there are individual case studies from Gary Williams, Precision Test Officer and Anna Hill, Network Engineer.
- Voneus – Alan Hawthorne, Service Team Delivery Manager. Alan has continued to go into the office to ensure he can effectively manage the operation of the field team. Alan continues to do this despite the devastating news he received recently that his son’s cancer had returned.
- Glide – Simon Wray, Field Engineer supporting the Nightingale Hospital in Bristol. Simon has had to continue operating in the field, which means a lot of exposure to people and having to do his job in full PPE gear. Despite this, he is responsible for connecting a lot of people to the internet, including a student accommodation building of overseas students who would have been trapped without any internet were it not for Simon.
- Luminet – Simon Dempsey, Installation Leader. Simon is responsible for keeping the installers in his team safe. That means sourcing them PPE and ensuring that they can do their job smoothly. This has been a new and difficult task but Simon.
- Zen – Mohammad Sarfaraz, Head of Technical Support. Mohammad has had to ensure the Zen network continues to operate strongly despite having to work from home. This has brought new challenges and forced himself and his team to look at new ways they can continue to offer the same levels of quality service to the network and to customers.
- Zzoomm – Ricardo Rosario, Zzoomm installation team. Ricardo has continued to install Zzoomm fibre networks throughout the lockdown, while having to wear full PPE kit. He has to have his temperature tested daily and maintain social distancing with colleagues and customers, which can prove tricky.
The resilience of the UK network has been a huge success story during the lockdown. Despite some initial scepticism, the network has performed well and has proven to be the backbone of the UK, allowing businesses to continue operating and more importantly, helping people stay connected with their loved ones.
This has been possible not because of some miracle, but because of the thousands of telecoms key workers who have carried on with their roles to maintain and support the network. These workers have put themselves and their families at risk everyday by going out and doing their job. Many have faced new and unexpected challenges of working in lockdown. Some have even faced abuse from the public. But this has not stopped them from doing an incredible job in ensuring that the UK network continues to perform.
We want to make sure that their work does not go unnoticed, so this is why we are launching this campaign to celebrate the key workers that have been vital in keeping Britain connected.Chair of ISPA Andrew Glover
On the subject of resilience while the lockdown is far from over yet and workers in England are waiting to find out what the latest changes will mean in practice for them, now is a good time for those who can work from home to consider improving their resilience by having two broadband connections to the home. Ideally you want to use two totally different infrastructures, but that can be expensive, but for millions there is the option of VDSL2 and a secondary ADSL2+ connection or mixing and matching that with cable broadband. This will increase the costs for individuals but hopefully with firms looking at getting more office staff to carry on working from home even when lockdown is finished they will pay or subsidise additional connections.
A lot has been said that about full fibre and Gigabit connections solving the need for two connections, and while that is largely the case there can be good reasons for having a second connection with a different provider, the biggest being if one has routing/core network issues the backup provider will probably still be good and in shared households there will always be that time when you are on a video call and someone will start a massive download that does manage to fill a Gigabit service.
Being able to get online has always been important but as we stay at home to save lives it is absolutely vital.
While our internet networks were built to be resilient, dedicated telecoms engineers are still out there every day doing essential work so we can stay informed, entertained and in touch with friends and family during lockdown. So we should all applaud our brilliant mobile and broadband workers for keeping Britain connected.Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden
All this talk of keeping everyone connected will be annoying to those reading this struggling on 1 Mbps or similar speed connections, and hopefully the broadband Universal Service Obligation is going to help some of these people quickly; and while a 4G home router is not want many people want if the speeds and subsequent Internet experience are a big step up in terms of letting them get things done online then that is a good achievement.