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covid May 20, 2020

How BT is dealing with the threat of Coronavirus

Since the first reports of COVID-19, we’ve been working on plans for any scenario where the spread of the virus may impact our customers and colleagues. Led by our Chief Medical Officer, we’re closely monitoring the situation and following international health guidance and government advice - including the guidance issued by the World Health Organisation and the HSE.

Given our major role in powering digital infrastructure in Ireland and globally, this work is being overseen at the highest level within BT. Our dedicated programme team are coordinating with the relevant authorities in countries we operate in. We’re working closely with our key contractors, partners and suppliers to ensure they can continue to support our services for consumers and businesses. We’ve got well established business continuity and incident management plans and processes at BT, and we’re committed to maintaining all of our services to the best of our ability.

Our network

We have added extra capacity to our Irish fixed, broadband and voice networks, to support our business customers and our wholesale partners and their end-user customers, at a time of mass-scale home-working in response to COVID-19.  Our network is built to accommodate evening peak network capacity, which is driven by data-heavy things like video streaming and game downloads, for example.

By comparison, data requirements for work-related applications like video calls and daytime email traffic represent a fraction of this. Even if the same heavy data traffic that we see each evening were to run throughout the daytime, there is still enough capacity for work applications to run simultaneously. 

Dealing with potential staff absence

We’ve already implemented policies to protect our colleagues across the business. However, our scenario planning assumes a significant number of people may be absent from work due to illness or ‘knock-on’ impacts such as school closures, family care needs, or public transport concerns.

Should absence levels increase to the extent that continuity of service could be disrupted, we will prioritise the Emergency Call Answering Service (999/112), and maintaining existing services to our customers over the provision of any new service.

Information for our business customers

We are committed to maintaining all of our business services and, as outlined above, we are confident that our network is able to support the anticipated increased demand for home working.

In order to respond to our business customers’ needs and to help them stay operational during this period, we’re working hard to provide them with a range of technology solutions including: 

  • Short-term upgrades to their enterprise network capacity;
  • Increased virtual private network (VPN) connectivity to support increased remote working;
  • Extra conferencing and collaboration tools e.g. file sharing tools, to allow colleagues to work together as if they were in the office;
  • User support to ensure continued access and use of these tools; and
  • Call routing/forwarding solutions to divert calls to home phones or mobiles.

We recognise that the situation is fluid and fast evolving, and that many of our suppliers will be affected to various degrees too. We’ll keep you informed if this is likely to affect the services you receive from us in any way.

We have appointed a dedicated team to identify critical items and suppliers and to manage key equipment availability where necessary.

If there are any potential variations to the capacity and service you might need in the coming weeks, please do let us know about these as soon as you can, via your account or service teams.

Supply chain

We have a global supply chain and we’re working closely with our suppliers to make sure we’re jointly prepared for any impact from the outbreak on our business. We’re also working closely with our third-party resourcing suppliers to ensure we can maintain services but a local situation that affects our suppliers may impact our ability to maintain service.

Our procurement teams are monitoring over 700 critical suppliers globally, and most have activated their business continuity plans.

We’ve profiled our critical inventory and are actively working to maintain adequate stock levels to see us through this period of uncertainty.

Our people

We’re asking our people to remain vigilant and to protect themselves through strict adherence to personal hygiene measures – washing hands with soap and water or using hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available.

We’ve asked colleagues performing roles that aren’t critical to the operation of vital infrastructure or services to work from home. We’ve also placed restrictions on international and domestic travel, and postponed or cancelled all external and internal events hosted by BT Ireland.

We’ll continue to follow the advice and guidance of the Government and the HSE and adjust our policies in BT Ireland accordingly.

Visiting BT sites

We are restricting visitors to BT sites to those who are critical to our continued business. If possible, all meetings should be managed remotely.

If you’re invited to a BT site we’ll need you to confirm the following information, consistent with the advice provided by HSE to your host prior to your arrival:

Have you returned to Ireland from any other country within the last 14 days?

Have you had close contact with or cared for someone diagnosed with COVID-19 within the last 14 days?

Have you experienced any cold or flu-like symptoms in the last 14 days (to include fever, cough, sore throat, respiratory illness, difficulty breathing)?

If you respond ‘yes’ to any of these statements we will politely request that you avoid visiting the site in order to protect other visitors and colleagues.

BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition

BT Ireland is the proud organiser of the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition.  Each year we are inspired by the project ideas we receive from students, and privileged to have the support of individuals and organisations who share the common goal of supporting young people.

With schools closed and people now practising social distancing, self-isolation or confined to their homes, we’d encourage young people to tap into their imaginations for ideas for the next BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition.  The COVID-19 pandemic has reminded us all of the critical role that STEM skills play in our society and the economy.  For guidance on how to get involved, visit BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition .