Coronavirus: BT Halts Home-Visits For Broadband Engineers


BT Openreach engineers will no longer visit homes to install new broadband connections, but exceptions will be made for the vulnerable

BT Openreach has warned that its engineers will avoid entering customer premises for new broadband connections, in light of the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic.

This means that engineers will no longer install new broadband connections when a home visit is involved. However it will still do so if it left a vulnerable person with no other form of communication

It comes amid concerns about bandwidth during the Coronavirus pandemic. This has led to major streaming platforms including Netflix, Amazon, YouTube, Facebook and Disney to lower the quality of their video content to ease bandwidth concerns expressed by some EU officials.

Wiltshire and South Gloucestershire broadband project
Wiltshire and South Gloucestershire broadband project

Home visits

Since the public emergency caused by the pandemic, BT has maintained that there is plenty of capacity in the UK’s networks.

Howard Watson, chief technology and information officer for BT Group, stated last week that the carrier “has more than enough capacity” in its UK network.

“Even if the same heavy data traffic that we see each evening were to run throughout the daytime, there is still enough capacity for work applications to run simultaneously,” he reportedly said.

But BT now instead of home visits, it will focus its efforts on other “essential work” in its updated guidance about what do to if an engineer is to visit.

“Our number one priority is to keep people connected, and we’ve been working closely with our Communications Provider customers to minimise the impact that the Government’s new restrictions have on the services we can provide,” said BT.

“We know that what Openreach does is critical, and connecting people has never been more important,” the former UK incumbent said. “That’s why many of our roles have been given ‘key worker’ status.”

Essential work

BT said that its engineers can do a lot of the work outside a person’s house.

“That said, the safety of our people and the public comes first and, based on the new guidance, we’re now prioritising essential work,” BT said. “That means we’re focussing on the repair and maintenance of connections that support critical national infrastructure, essential public services, vulnerable customers and those without service. And our CP customers are helping us to identify and prioritise these groups.”

“We’ve also advised our engineers to avoid entering customer premises,” said BT. “A large amount of our work we do can be completed outside, and we can often 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.”

It has been reported that Virgin Media, which has its own network separate to that of BT, is still allowing home visits by its engineers, providing customers are not self-isolating.

Last week BT chief executive Philip Jansen confirmed he had been diagnosed with Covid-19 (Coronavirus) and has gone into self-isolation.

It is reported that this was the first publicly confirmed case of a FTSE 100 boss being infected with Coronavirus.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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