The coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound effect on us all. Our key objectives are the safety and welfare of our colleagues and customers, and the continued provision and maintenance of our services.
All staff at M12, and our sub-brands of Giganet and Comm21, are now working from home, and most have since 18/03/20. We will continue to do so until the advice from the Government changes. The technology we operate internally permits us to operate the business at a near 'business as usual' status whilst working from home.
Naturally with the significant updates communicated by the Prime Minster at 8.30pm on Monday 23rd March, movement of people has now been formally restricted to only the most essential activities in order to keep the public safe, and protect the NHS - something we at M12 are fully behind and supportive of. This change has already had a big impact on the provision of any Openreach services, in that for most organisations and homes, any in-premises work is delayed until at least 01/06/20. More on this below.
The pandemic as well as the actions taken by the Government will have a profound effect on many homes and business, and the telecoms and connectivity sector is no exception. Significant changes to the way that our suppliers are able to operate will come into force, and we'll outline them here.
However, we're here to do our part to help our customers get through this, by maintaining communication services and assisting you through your own changes in working environment when it comes to the communication set up. We will be busy at times, and our responses may not be as fast as we're usually known for, however we'll help you as soon as we're able to where we can.
- All staff are home-working.
- Our usual telephone numbers, and other methods of contact are fully operational
- Our supply chain are regularly keeping us updated with their status and procedures - any material changes will be communicated here.
Our response so far
- Our staff have been working flat out to assist customers with any changes to their telecoms set up that they've needed to implement due to the home working requirements.
- As you can appreciate, our engineering teams are flat out helping many customers who in turn have tens and in some cases hundreds of staff that now immediately need to work remotely.
- This has put a huge strain on our staff who are doing a sterling job.
- Therefore, in some cases, our response times may be longer than usual, however they will improve as the backlog is processed.
- We will of course prioritise any customers in any Critical National Infrastructure (CNI) sectors, including; health, government, utilities, financial services, defence, transportation, communications, space and food.
- Support for existing customers:
- Full phone system maintenance and support services will operate throughout the period
- Customers operating in the CNI areas shall be prioritised
- Site-visits will be avoided as much as possible, and in fact, over 95+% of support cases are remotely handled successfully in any case
- Where a hardware failure has occurred with a supported device, we shall work with the customer to ascertain whether there are workarounds to avoid any movements of people/goods, whether we can courier a replacement next business day, or whether an immediate site visit is required. If a site visit is required, this shall be permitted for vulnerable customers, or those in CNI sectors; social distancing and good personal hygiene following the NHS and government guidelines will follow.
- Where customers have asked us to reconfigure their system to permit remote working or establish diverts, if these are simple tasks and take less than 1 hour to complete, we will not charge anything extra. However if you have a large or complicated set up, then we may be required to charge some engineering time to assist you in making these changes or helping set up remote working. We will try to be as fair as possible given the circumstances.
- Naturally, at the end of this, and there will be an end of this, we'll help to put everything back to how it was. So where we are asked to make any changes to diverts, messages and the like, we'll make a note of how the set up used to be so that it's easier when we revert. The price that we charge for the configuration will also include the charge to put everything back at the end.
- New requirements:
- In most cases, we're 'business as usual'.
- Please contact our sales team or your account manager to explain your requirements.
- Depending on your requirement, we will handle these subject to our supplier's lead times (which may have been extended during the pandemic). Lead times may have increased by a few days to a few weeks depending on the requirement.
- In some cases, stock of hardware such as headsets may be limited due to the demand in the industry for these. Where possible we'll recommend alternatives and help to provide a solution to you as soon as possible.
- Although we have yet to be advised or experience this, items which rely on the interconnected-global supply chain may eventually be subject to longer-delays
- For larger projects, please speak to your project manager to discuss whether there will be an impact to your project.
- Engineering work will be carried out by the same teams that assist with existing customer requirements, so lead times may be slightly longer than usual, but we'll prioritise CNI industries.
Network Services (ISDN/SIP/NGNs)
- Update to follow.
Giganet and connectivity (Business Customers)
- Existing customers:
- Our NOC and support teams remain on standby 24x7x365 monitoring the core network as well as supporting individual end customer connections.
- Our network has plenty of headroom, and we do not forecast or see any areas of concern with regards to congestion within the network.
- We have plenty of in-house stock of replacement Juniper CPE routers where required for repairs or replacements.
- Our fulfilment provider for broadband routers also have plenty of stock for repairs and replacements.
- New customers:
- New service installations are continuing as normal subject to your provisioning ticket updates.
- We appreciate that some offices may have shut and staff working remotely, and therefore any works required to take place inside your premises will not be possible. Please let us know as soon as possible to inform us of this decision so that we can pause the provisioning activities.
Deliveries from us (or our distributors/suppliers) to you
- Couriers are continuing to provide services across the UK.
- The process for dropping off and collecting packages has changed.
- A signature will no longer be required for the 'proof of deliver' or POD.
- Instead your name will be taken.
- If you have temporarily shut your office down, please let us know to avoid a wasted trip, or provide an alternate address to re-direct shipments to if this would be appropriate.
Our Key Suppliers
(BT Plc t/a) Openreach
Openreach are a key provider of telecoms and connectivity infrastructure across the UK. Their services are used by M12 & Giganet, as well as many 100s of other Communications Providers to deliver services to homes and business across the UK. Chances are that if you have a broadband connection or leased line, it uses the Openreach network (although there are other providers such as CityFibre & Virgin Media et al).
In light of COVID-19, and the PM's update on 23/03/20, Openreach have now announced significant changes to the way they are operating. They are taking these steps in line with the government's advice about "essential work", "social distancing", and also respecting that many of their staff are "key workers" and their services are relied upon by many critical heath, blue light, vulnerable, home and business customers.
Provision work (new installations as well as upgrades)
- Any "self-installation" work which does not require a visit to the end customer's premises will continue.
- This includes any transfers, migrations or upgrades to FTTC.
- Any work for "vulnerable" end customers, including any home-visits being carried out safely, only where essential will continue.
- Work to connect customers who have no other form of broadband or telephony available will continue, but Openreach will work with escalation channels to assess these, and both Openreach and M12 will work to see if there is a solution that mitigates any in-building visits.
- All works to critical national infrastructure (NHS, pharmacies, utilities, blue light services, retail and food distribution outlets, financial service business and other categories highlighted by the government) will continue, including any on-premises work.
- Will continue, with a priority for critical national infrastructure customers
- Repair works will focus on restoring services within a safe working environment, and with revised processes to further reduce social interaction where possible.
With immediate effect
- In-flight orders will attempt to be completed outside of the premises only.
- Any orders which do not require an appointment within the premises will continue (e.g. transfers/migrations, upgrades to FTTC)
- Repair books will remain open at this time, Openreach are reviewing non-urgent repair works
- Engineers are being asked NOT to enter the end customer premises and to enable/restore services where possible from outside of the premises.
- Openreach's priority is to ensure that end customers remain connected at this time.
- Openreach will be asking us and their other Communications Providers to work with our end customers to understand alternative means of connectivity and to limit the movements of end customers between networks, due to the likelihood of an in- home visit being required.
- It is Openreach's expectation that they will shortly announce national MBORC. This will be subject to separate communications that will be provided later today (24/03/20).