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UK Internet Providers Celebrate Key Workers in COVID-19 Crisis

Monday, May 11th, 2020 (10:53 am) - Score 1,101
internet service providers association uk

The UK Internet Services Providers’ Association (ISPA) has today launched their new “Keeping Britain Connected” campaign, which essentially names and celebrates some of the key workers in the telecoms and broadband ISP sector who have been working throughout the lockdown to maintain and support the network.

Recently we’ve covered a number of situations where telecoms engineers and other staff have faced abuse, and in some cases even physical assault, while doing their jobs, which is despite them being designated as “key works” during the current crisis (maintaining and upgrading communication services is vital for national connectivity and the emergency services). In that sense it’s nice to have a bit of positive news to report for a change.

The new campaign, which is being supported by the Government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and the Broadband Stakeholder Group (BSG), essentially sees ISPA members nominate a number of key workers who have been working hard during lockdown to support and maintain the network in often difficult circumstances (see below for a full list).

Andrew Glover, Chair of ISPA, said:

“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.”

Oliver Dowden MP, UK Digital Secretary, said:

“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.”

Still, we probably would have chosen a different slogan from “Keeping Britain Connected,” since that term has already been used by various different broadband and mobile operators to help communicated their existing customer centric responses to the on-going crisis, which might cause some confusion. But don’t let that distract you from some of the excellent work being mentioned below.

Summary of Case Studies by ISP

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 (see here).

Sky Broadband – 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 (see here).

Openreach (BT) – 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 (see here).

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 (see here).

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 (see here).

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 (see here).

Zen Internet – 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 (see here).

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 (see here).

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
Leave a Comment
5 Responses
  1. Avatar Roger_Gooner

    Whilst frontline staff in hospitals and care homes deservedly get praise for their heroic efforts it’s great to see recognition for the work done by the technical boys without whom entire organisations would go under.

    For disclosure: I’m biased as I used to work in IT and am well aware of what has to be done by unknown IT staff to keep the mission critical systems developed and running.

  2. Avatar Ferrocene Cloud

    I was speaking to a field colleague the other day who had received threats and abuse from idiots out there, yet was still willing to get on with his job and incredibly helpful to my team.

    The field teams across the industry have been doing a great job. Lot of work by a lot of people, but many of us can remain safely at home. Full credit to them.

  3. Avatar Andrew Campling

    It’s good to see acknowledgement of the work being undertaken by the industry in sometimes difficult circumstances – well done to ISPA and others for taking the initiative!

    I hope that the small minority of idiots behind the needless harassment of key workers face the consequences of their actions and that these consequences are sufficiently severe that they act as a deterrent to others!

  4. Avatar colinw

    Of all the above the biggest deserving of any respect in my opinion (from the write up of each at least) seems to be Voneus – Alan Hawthorne. The rest from what i can see in the main are just working from home where possible, which is what we are all doing.

    If Alan Hawthorne is reading i wish your son the best and hope he is able to beat his cancer. I can not even possibly imagine the stress and worry for you and your family while you remain steadfast, resilient and still actually go in to work. The sheer will power to stay that strong is unfathomable.

    May your son have a full recovery, your family have all the best in the future and you and Voneus as a company all the success it so obviously deserves. If i lived in the rural areas you provide to you would have my custom today this precise minute NO hesitation.

    You sir are a shining light of REAL strength in these times, a man that has REAL worries to deal with both personally at home and single handedly it appears manning the office.

    You my man are A REAL HERO rather than a poster board one.

    • Avatar dumdum

      Well said. Never mind Iron Man, that man must have a Iron will to be carrying on as he is.

      It is people like him we forget about, a family man with a son that needs care and a man doing his best to be there for his son and family whilst also running a business to help others.

      I hope unlike what we have been told about cancer patients in the media his son is getting the help he needs at this difficult time and he pulls through.

      It brings serious pause for thought, people that have been scared at home worrying about something they are unlikely to ever get need to look at this individual to see what staying strong in these times actually means.

      Alan Hawthorne I salute you. Stay strong and may your son be well soon.

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