COVID-19 poses a bunch of challenges for the UK – and we want to play our part in limiting the impact on society, the economy and our employees. We’re working very closely with our Communications Provider customers to do that, and the information below is reviewed and updated regularly based on UK Government advice.
The work Openreach does is critical, and connecting people has never been more important. Our number one priority is to keep people connected at this time, and we’ve been working closely with our Communications Provider (CP) customers to minimise the impact that the Government’s new restrictions have on the services we can provide.
That said, the safety of our people and the public comes first and that means some changes in the kind of work we can do, and the way we do it.
We’re focussing on the repair and maintenance of connections that support critical national infrastructure, essential public services, vulnerable customers and those without service. Our CP customers are helping us to identify and prioritise these groups and many of our people have been given ‘key worker’ status to allow them to keep on working. That means you'll still see our people working in the street, and whilst they'd appreciate a thumbs up, please don't approach them as we need to respect the 2m social distancing guidelines.
We’ve also advised our engineers to avoid entering customer premises. A large amount of the work we do can be completed outside, meaning we can often upgrade people or fix problems without entering a customer's property. So we’re advising them not to complete any work inside a property unless it would leave a vulnerable customer with no form of connection, and it's not possible to provide one by any other means.
Finally, the Government has asked us to continue extending and upgrading our network to add more capacity and deliver faster, more reliable broadband. That includes building our new full fibre network and it means you will still see our engineers working in the street, digging trenches and installing new cables.
We will continue to update the guidance as it evolves from both the UK Government, and the devolved administrations.
We know more businesses are asking their employees to work from home during this period, so connecting remotely is important for people.
In terms of capacity, our network already manages very heavy usage in the evenings when people are streaming movies or gaming. The types of applications that people use heavily outside of work – like Netflix, Amazon Prime or Sky Go – use more bandwidth than typical working tools like email, collaboration software or even voice and video conferencing. So we're confident that our network can deal with a big increase in people working from home.
But if you’re at all concerned about your broadband service and it being able to cope with home working, it’s a good idea to speak to your Communications Provider.