Openreach urges Aberdeenshire broadband users to get winter ready

Openreach, the UK’s largest phone and broadband network, is busy preparing for extreme winter weather and has some useful advice for homes and businesses across North East Scotland.

Engineers worked around the clock in atrocious weather conditions to repair storm damage in North East Scotland earlier this year.
Engineers worked around the clock in atrocious weather conditions to repair storm damage in North East Scotland earlier this year.

The company is warning there could be disruption if there’s a repeat of the 2021/22 storm season, which saw several named storms hit Scotland, including three in one week in February.

Since then, Openreach has been reviewing its approach to extreme weather, making sure its 3,000 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.

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

Tell your provider if you’re 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.

Check your power: We have back-up plans in the event of local power cuts to keep our network running, but you might find it hard to connect if your own power is disrupted.

Consider upgrading to Full Fibre: Our Ultrafast full fibre broadband network now reaches more than 87,000 homes and businesses across Aberdeen city and shire. As well as being faster, more reliable and future-proof, it’s also less affected by things like flooding. Check now to find out if you can upgrade.

More information: If phone and broadband services are disrupted, you can find out the latest information we have at openreach.com. Always report a fault to your service provider so we know there’s a problem.

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.

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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 extremely rural communities quickly.

Jenni Macfarlane, service delivery director for Openreach in Scotland, 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. The most important thing to us is keeping our engineers and the public safe.

"Our people are out in all conditions and in very remote and rural areas, whether they’re fixing and maintaining the network or building new full fibre connections.

“Last winter, our Scottish network was repeatedly lashed by storms like Arwen, Barra, Corrie and Malik – which caused devastation in parts of the North East.

"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.

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"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.”

Around 4,000 Openreach people live and work in Scotland, helping to maintain and build the UK’s largest phone and broadband network.

Openreach has already made Full Fibre broadband available to more than 750,000 Scottish premises, with work continuing on the ground.

It’s part of the company’s plans to reach 25 million UK homes and businesses by the end of 2026.

Anybody spotting any damage to the Openreach network following bad weather this winter can report it by visiting www.openreach.com or by calling 0800 023 2023.