Openreach has informed ISPs using its network that it will delay most broadband installations until 1 March 2021 in light of the rapid spread of COVID-19 and national lockdown.
Openreach, a division of BT, paused new broadband and phone provisions, repairs and engineer appointments on a “national basis” during the first lockdown in March 2020. It eventually resumed installations in May, after coronavirus cases fell and lockdown restrictions were eased.
Now the owner of much of the UK’s broadband infrastructure says it will once again delay non-urgent provisions to protect the safety of its engineers and customers. For instance, installations for those who already have superfast broadband service and which require work inside homes will likely be pushed back until March. This includes most installations of ultrafast broadband, including FTTP and Gfast.
However, it says its engineers are key workers and will still be entering homes to install and repair connections for customers who need better internet and to avoid a loss of service.
Specifically, Openreach says it will be prioritising households who have no existing broadband service or are receiving service of less than 30Mbps, in order to enable home working and schooling.
Additionally, provision of home ADSL and FTTC broadband products will continue, as most don’t require engineers enter homes.
A spokesperson for Openreach said: “Given the new national lockdown, and following government guidance, we’re updating our engineer processes to ensure we continue to keep our people and customers safe. As key workers, we’ll continue to conduct work outside the home.
“Where we do need to go into homes, we’ll be prioritising urgent provisions and critical repairs for those customers who need a more stable connection and to avoid a total loss of service. This will mean that non-urgent provisions, such as those who already have a superfast broadband service and require us to work inside homes, may be delayed.
“We’ll always aim to spend as little time inside homes as possible, whilst working safely with distancing, ventilation and PPE.”
Engineers will also carry out personal risk assessments at every home visit, asking residents if they have symptoms of COVID-19.
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