Ex-armed forces ensure roll-out of high-speed broadband in Lancashire is done with military precision

Last month BT announced plans to create 130 new engineering jobs across the North West as part of a UK-wide recruitment drive. Here in Lancashire two former members of the armed forces are among some of the recent recruits who swapped helmets for hard hats…

Two former soldiers are among the team of engineers leading the technology charge across Lancashire.

After serving for 23 years in the Army with the Royal Green Jackets/The Rifles, Rob Povey, from Wesham, felt it was time for a change.

Adam Archer, from South Shore, had the same idea, after more than 11 years in the Army, most recently as a communications systems instructor with in the School of Signals.

Now they’re both part of the army of engineers working for BT’s local network business, Openreach, rolling out high-speed broadband as part of Superfast Lancashire. It’s the partnership between BT and Lancashire County Council that will bring high-speed fibre broadband to 97 per cent of the county’s homes and businesses by the end of 2015.

Until around 12 months ago, Adam, aged 29, was more used to providing vital communications all over the world – from Canada to Afghanistan – now he’s part of the team that’s bringing the worldwide web closer to the people of Lancashire.
Robert’s new role is also a far cry from his military career, during which the 41-year-old saw active service in Afghanistan, Iraq, Bosnia, Kosovo and Northern Ireland.

Both Adam and Robert joined Openreach around a year ago as members of an 18-strong mobile engineering taskforce covering Lancashire and the North West.

Their main role is installing underground fibre optic cables between telephone exchanges and the new road-side cabinets that are needed to connect people to the new high-speed broadband network.

The skills and experience picked up by them in the Army have made them both perfect fits for their new jobs.

During his time in the Army, Adam worked as a communications systems operator in the Royal Corps of Signals, and also had a spell in the electronic warfare specialist unit providing radio communications back to camp whilst out on patrol in Iraq. In addition, he spent time in Afghanistan as the shift commander providing vital SATCOM communications.

Adam, who is married with a young son, with a second child on the way, said: “In my previous job, communications were often about helping to save people’s lives on the battlefield. Now my work is more about using communications to help enhance people’s lives.”

Robert said: “There’s a strong sense of teamwork and everyone is very disciplined and focused on what they’re doing. The majority of us are ex-military and I’m sure some of that has rubbed off.

“A lot of the work I did with the Army involved helping to re-build communities and to help promote good relations with local people. Now I’m still playing an important role in building communities, but not having to do it on the other side of the world. I also have to be an ambassador for Openreach as we always get approached by people in the street asking what we’re doing, so I always chat to them and try to explain what the benefits of fibre broadband are.”

As a married father-of-two, no one is more aware than Robert of the importance of rolling out faster and more reliable broadband.
He added: “The kids use it all the time, whether it’s for watching movies or for online gaming, but also for important things like doing research for their homework. It’s an essential part of people’s lives these days.

“One of the things I love so much about my new job is that, in a sense, I’m still serving my country. At the end of the day, we’re helping to move the whole of the UK forward into an exciting future, and being part of that is something that I’m sure I’ll be able to look back on with pride.”

Both Robert and Adam come from forces families. Adam’s father and two brothers have also served or are currently serving in the Army, while Robert followed his father into the Army, even serving in the same regiment.
Note to Editors:

Anyone interested in applying to become an engineers should go to www.openreach.co.uk/careers

Openreach has been working with the Career Transition Partnership (CTP) – an arrangement between the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and Right Management, a global talent and career expert – since 2011. The CTP provides career guidance along with training and employment support to those leaving the armed forces.

Issued by the BT regional press office. For more information please contact Graham Taylor on 0800 085 0660 or email: graham.2.taylor@bt.com

About Superfast Lancashire

Superfast Lancashire is a partnership between Lancashire County Council and BT, with additional funding from the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) programme, as well as the European Regional Development Fund, Blackpool Council, and Blackburn with Darwen Council. Combined with the private sector’s commercial roll-out of fibre broadband, the partnership will make high-speed broadband available to 97 per cent of the county’s homes and businesses by the end of next year.

In addition to the roll-out of faster fibre broadband across the county, a Business Support Centre has opened as part of Superfast Lancashire. It is run by a team of specialists to advise small and medium-sized businesses across the county on how to use the new technology to enhance their business. More information is available from: www.superfastlancashire.com