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Facing the challenges of winter

Monday, 21 December 2015

“We are now in the third winter of the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband programme. We have been lucky so far as the last two years have been relatively mild but there is no way of knowing what this winter will be like, so we are prepared to deal with the worst the weather can throw at us! As the programme is bringing high speed fibre broadband to rural areas, some of which are very remote, our engineers need to travel on country lanes, which are the least likely to be cleared in the case of snow and ice. We all remember the terrible conditions five years ago when there were huge snow falls and vehicles got snowed in. It could happen again this year, so we have extensive plans in place to deal with wintry weather conditions.

“Health and Safety is paramount. All our vans are equipped with snow shoes, salt and shovels and our engineers always assess the risk before travelling on any road that may be dangerous.

“We face particular engineering challenges in winter. For example, concrete takes longer to set in cold weather and we need to take steps to mitigate this, such as using sections made of pre-set concrete. It is also trickier to carry out any excavation work such as clearing blockages and digging up roads to lay new ducts. We have to carefully consider the impact of traffic management when roads may be dangerous. So we try to lay fibre cabling before the worst of the weather arrives. This means we get ahead of the game and we can focus on work during the winter that is less vulnerable to weather conditions, such as re-arranging copper wires.

“I am pleased to say that as a result of all our planning, any disruption to our schedule is kept to a minimum. In my whole career, there is only one week I can remember when work had to stop altogether due to bad weather. So we are facing this winter confident that we will keep the fibre roll out on target and take any challenges in our stride.”