Darrell McVitty (40), from Aghyaran, Co. Tyrone, has been a Full Fibre Openreach engineer for two years helping roll out the next generation of broadband technology. Previously working as an electrician, he made the move to Openreach after admiring the company for many years and has never looked back.
When he joined, broadband was just on the cusp of the Full Fibre transition and he’s been wholly immersed in Fibre to the Premise (FTTP) broadband build ever since. He is a ‘FTTP engineer’, meaning he is the last step in connecting businesses, homes and premises to the vast network and sees firsthand the impact that having a broadband connection can make in people’s lives.
“My role as an Openreach engineer is to help build, manage and maintain the broadband network here in Northern Ireland. Usually this means I’m helping connect peoples’ homes or working in key areas to build our Full Fibre network, but due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, my daily working life has changed quite dramatically. I’ve temporarily moved on to the build team to help lay essential cables that are keeping vulnerable people and essential sites connected.
“Hospitals, fire stations, police stations, transport hubs are all critical to getting through this crisis and all rely on strong internet connections. Having a strong broadband network is essential now more than ever. That’s why Openreach engineers have been classed as key workers – it means we can focus on doing essential work to make sure the broadband network keeps running.
“We’re prioritising the repair and maintenance of connections that support critical national infrastructure, essential public services, vulnerable customers and those without service. To ensure we can complete this work, we’re closely following all health and safety protocols that are in place and adhering to social distancing guidelines.
“Broadband has become even more vital in people’s day-to-day lives as they adjust to a new way of living and operating from home. Many people now find themselves having to work, homeschool and entertain the kids all from the kitchen table. Having three kids myself aged three, four and seven, I understand how difficult it is to juggle being a father, husband, and teacher all at the same time can be. And although it’s a big change and tough at times, I’m trying to find the positives. Having family time like this is something I’m really appreciating and making the most of.
“Over the last few years as an engineer, it’s been heart-warming to see the impact that broadband can have on people’s lives but it’s really been over the last month, that I’ve really seen how important the work is that we’re doing. Seeing a vulnerable customer’s face light up when they know they’re now connected, or having cars slow down and give us a thumbs up in the street just makes all the difference.
“Many people are now relying on video calls and weekly quizzes to keep in touch with friends and families too, and I feel great pride knowing that Openreach is at the heart of it.
“I feel we are making a real difference to people’s lives right now and hopefully playing a part in helping people to get through this situation.”
To help get the most of your broadband, Openreach has provided tips here www.openreach.co.uk/covid19