Broadband engineers and coronavirus

Many broadband providers are prioritising essential works and minimising the amount of in-home work engineers need to do, to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.  Here’s what you need to know.  

Many broadband providers are prioritising essential works and minimising the amount of in-home work engineers need to do, to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.  Here’s what you need to know.  

Holly Cox
Digital expert
minute read
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Posted 25 NOVEMBER 2020

Please note: The information in this article was correct at the time of publication on 25 November 2020, but, because of the impact of COVID-19, things are changing rapidly. We aim to keep this page updated, but check with your broadband provider or potential provider directly to confirm any details. 

If I have technical difficulties with my broadband, what can I do? 

There’s huge demand on internet providers at the moment, with many of us working from home and relying on WiFi to keep us entertained and connected. It means you might have to be a little more patient with your broadband connection.

Openreach, which provides services for BT, Plusnet, Now Broadband, TalkTalk, Sky, EE and The Post Office, has some Broadband self-help tips for checks you can do yourself at home.

However, if you’re still having issues or think you’ve got serious technical problems, contact your broadband provider as you would normally, either online or by phone. Be aware though, that call centres might be very busy.

Will my broadband supplier be able to send an engineer out? 

Openreach engineers can fix issues from the exchange point or from outside a property. As key workers, the company’s engineers are also able to work inside customers’ homes and businesses where necessary. They are continuing to follow hygiene and social distancing rules. 
You can read about what to do if you have an Openreach engineer coming. 
Virgin is allowing engineers to enter customer’s homes to do essential work, including fixing and installing broadband, while observing social distancing guidelines.  
The company is sending out free self-install packs where possible, so you might not need an engineer to get set up.  
Hyperoptic is allowing engineers into homes. However, it’s assessing risks beforehand and taking social distancing precautions.

Will an engineer need to come into my home? 

You’ll need to check with your provider to see if they’d need to come in to carry out the work, and whether they’d do so.  
Because Openreach have a large network of telephone exchanges and street cabinets, a lot of maintenance and engineering work can be done outside. This means your provider may send an engineer to you and they may be able to fix the problem, without coming inside.  

Hyperoptic is prioritising work in this order: 

  • Vulnerable customers 
  • Existing customers 
  • New customers whose existing connection is below par for their needs 
  • New customers who already have access to a quality broadband connection.  

For more information, you can visit Hyperoptic’s website. 

Virgin Media is also prioritising essential work and has a procedure for technician visits:

  • Three days before an installation visit, and one day before a service visit, you’ll get a phone text to ask if anyone in your household has flu-like symptoms or is self-isolating for any reason. If they have, the technician’s visit will be postponed for two weeks.
  • On the day of the visit, before the technician arrives, they’ll call you to check again and the same process will be followed. If your answer on the call is ‘no’, they’ll come in and carry out the work. For more information, visit Virgin Media’s website.

Sky Broadband & Talk installation will be carried out from outside your home if possible. But if it can’t be done, the engineer will come into your home for a short period of time. They’ll call you before the visit to make sure it’s safe to go ahead. See more on how to prepare for a Sky Broadband & Talk installation

Can you switch broadband during the coronavirus outbreak? 

You can still switch. But if you do wish to switch, it’s a good idea to check the situation with your current, and potential, provider. 

Also make sure you understand all about minimum terms and cancellation fees before you make the switch. You can read our helpful guide to switching your broadband provider.

Will I be stuck without any broadband if I try to switch but can’t? 

If you’re switching from one Openreach provider to another, your new provider will organise the switch. They’ll let you know firstly if they can do it, and secondly when it’ll happen, so you can prepare for any downtime.

If you’re switching to a provider that doesn’t use the Openreach network like Virgin, you’ll need to stop your service with your current provider and start your service with your new provider. As such, you’ll need to contact them both.

If you’re just switching broadband and keeping your existing telephone line, you might only be offline for a few minutes. If you’re switching landline providers or different types of broadband, you might have a few hours or days without WiFi while the switch happens.

You shouldn’t be left without any WiFi for any significant period of time if you organise one provider to take over from another.

How can I improve my broadband if I can’t switch? 

If you can’t switch providers for whatever reason – your area doesn’t support fibre, for example – there’s a few things you can do to improve your existing broadband. 
You might like to read our guide on upgrading your broadband for home working for tips to getting the most out of your broadband and making home-working run smoothly. 

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