Former royal military policeman joins the superfast broadband beat

More than 50 engineers recruited to support the fibre roll-out in Durham and Tees Valley 

Government announces two million more UK homes and businesses can now get superfast broadband
Former soldier Paul Glowienko has swapped his helmet for a hard hat to join the ‘technology charge’ across County Durham to deploy superfast broadband.

After serving for 24 years in the army – latterly as a Royal Military Policeman, Paul, who lives and works in Durham, decided it was time for a career change and signed up with BT in July 2013. He is one of more than 50 engineers recruited to support the roll-out in Durham and the Tees Valley and part of the army of engineers from BT’s local network business, Openreach, rolling out high-speed, fibre broadband as part of the Digital Durham project.

The project is a massive undertaking with a team of more than 100 planners and engineers working to upgrade the network. More than 600km of fibre will be laid – seven times the length of the A1 stretch running through Durham, to provide around 98 per cent of homes and businesses in County Durham with high-speed broadband by the end of 2016.

Simon Roberson, BT’s regional partnership director for the North East, said: “Bringing the benefits of fibre broadband to people living and working in County Durham is great for local communities but this roll-out is also having a knock on effect and supporting new jobs in the North East.

“More than 280,000 households and businesses in County Durham now have access to high-speed fibre broadband as a result of Digital Durham and BT’s own commercial fibre broadband programme.

“Together, we and our public sector partners are creating a lasting legacy, which will play a vital role in the future success and prosperity of our local communities and beyond. Already nearly 22 million UK households and businesses on BT’s network can benefit from the huge opportunities offered by fibre broadband with many more joining them every month.”

Paul, 43, told how his former military career had encompassed a wide variety of different roles including nine years as a Main Battle Tank Crewman, a period as an Arms Explosive Search Dog Handler, a Family Liaison Officer, Community Police Officer, Disclosure Officer and an Investigations Officer involved in investigating high level legal cases.

In his new role as a customer service engineer, Paul is involved in maintaining the physical network from the telephone exchange into customers’ premises as well as connecting them up to fibre broadband. He is just one of around 2,000 ex-military men and women across the UK who have been recruited by Openreach over the past three years.

The dad of two said: “It was a big decision to leave the army after a long career but joining Openreach was more like moving to a new regiment than moving to a new job. With a lot of colleagues sharing a military background there is already a sense of camaraderie which helps to form a quick working bond. There’s a great sense of teamwork and a willingness to succeed and get the job done.”

It is a far cry from his previous working roles but Paul said he’d been able to apply many of the skills and experience he’d picked up in the army to working on the customer ‘front line.’

Paul said: “As a Military Policeman, the ability to read people and good negotiation and communication skills are essential. In this job these skills come in very handy. In the customers’ eyes you are the face of the company so it is important to leave a lasting positive impression.”

For Paul, one element of the job he loves is hearing first-hand the positive impact it has on the local communities he finds himself working in.
“I like to spend a lot of time with customers helping them get set up with their fibre broadband, talking them through and answering questions they might have. I like to go the extra mile, especially with people who aren’t as tech savvy. Thankfully, I have had many very positive comments from customers.”

Paul’s mission to explain has led to him giving up his free time, even taking a day’s leave, to help at sessions run by Cestria Housing and - East Durham Homes housing associations – advising residents about getting online. And he’s recently become involved with The Right Click: Internet Safety Matters campaign – a partnership between BT and UNICEF UK - aimed at helping children to protect themselves online and helping parents keep their children safe on the internet. Launched in March, the scheme aims to reach 100 schools across the UK in its first year.

He said: “I will be volunteering to go into local schools and helping to give presentations and talks to pupils and teachers about how to stay safe online and I’m doing my very first visit next month.”
Paul added: “One of the things I like 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 I’ll be able to look back on with pride.”

Digital Durham is a £25 million initiative to transform broadband speeds for businesses and residents across County Durham, Gateshead, Sunderland and the Tees Valley.
In April 2013 a partnership of eight local authorities, including Durham County Council, agreed a deal with BT to extend high-speed fibre broadband availability to around 94 per cent of premises by the end of 2016. It is also aiming to provide a minimum of 2Mbps broadband speeds for all within the programme area.
BT’s investment of £5.9 million bolsters the public sector investment, which originally included £7.8 million from Durham County Council & Gateshead, £9.1 million Government funding from Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) and a £1.3 million contribution from public sector partners in Sunderland and Tees Valley.
In February 2014 more than £1 million of further government funding was secured to invest in extending fibre broadband coverage in the Durham and Tees Valley area.
The extra funding, along with an additional investment from BT, will enable Digital Durham to extend the reach of next generation fibre broadband coverage to 98 per cent of County Durham homes and businesses.
For more information about the Digital Durham programme please visit www.digitaldurham.org


Background Note:

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 management expert – since 2011. The CTP provides career guidance along with training and employment support to those leaving the armed forces

For downloadable photography of the Digital Durham project go here:

180Mbps and 330Mbps are top wholesale speeds. Internet service providers (ISPs) may use different speeds in their advertising. Individual line speeds will depend on network infrastructure and the service chosen by the ISP

Notes to Editors:
Superfast Britain is a Government investment of £1.08bn in broadband and communication infrastructure across the UK. Run by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, this investment helps businesses to grow, creates jobs and will make Britain more competitive in the global race. The portfolio comprises three linked programmes:
• £780m to extend superfast broadband to 95% of the UK by 2017
• £150m to provide high speed broadband to businesses in 22 cities
• £150m to improve quality and coverage of mobile phone and basic data network services
Administered on behalf of Government by Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), Superfast Britain is transforming Britain by promoting growth, enabling skills and learning, and improving quality of life.

For further information: https://www.gov.uk/broadband-delivery-uk

About Digital Durham

The Digital Durham programme‘s vision is to improve the economic and social wellbeing of residents, by enabling a greater access to digital services through the provision of fibre broadband and other ground breaking technologies to businesses, homes and communities in County Durham, Gateshead, Sunderland and the five Tees Valley areas.

Working in partnership with BT, we aim to bring faster broadband to those areas that are outside of any commercial rollout plans. By mid 2016, we aim for at least 90% of properties to have a minimum of 24 Mbps and all premises at least 2 Mbps; and the remaining 10% to have 24 Mbps by the end of 2017.