Toughbook Provides Reliable Mobile Connectivity for Field Engineers at OpenReach

Recently, Panasonic released a video case study highlighting mobile computing success at OpenReach, an infrastructure division of British telecommunications company BT Group. OpenReach oversees all local access network connectivity for broadband customers across the United Kingdom, with a staff of 33,000, including 25,000 front line engineers. In order to allow their employees to drive better outcomes with access to real-time data on the job, OpenReach recently purchased 5,500 Panasonic Toughbook C1 computers to provide their engineers with a connected, durable and field-ready device.

The Toughbook purchase was the largest such investment in company history, said Neill Driscoll, Managing Director for Transformation at OpenReach.  “We decided to start [with a deployment to front line engineers] because we found that it was an area where we could really make a big difference by deploying those new devices, with Windows 8 as a new operating system, to really address some of the challenges we were facing around device speed, connectivity and reliability.”

Since deploying the Toughbook, OpenReach has seen an increase in engineer productivity. According to Martin Holloway, General Manager of OpenReach in London, the easy transport of the Toughbook and the fact that it so easily boots up saves their engineers about an hour to an hour and a half, allowing them to see more customers per day. “The device helps with the customer interface, because it switches very easily from a laptop to a tablet,” said Holloway . “[A good example of this is when] a broadband boost engineer is going around customer’s premises demonstrating the strength of wireless signals around the house. You can simply flip the device into a tablet and take the customer around the house, and demonstrate very simply and easily just how strong the signal is wherever in the house. It makes it very easy for the engineer.”

Durability is another important consideration for OpenReach. “We have to make sure the equipment we give our engineers is fit for purpose, and the Toughbook does that in many ways,” continued Holloway. “The battery life is important. Guys are out nine to ten hours a day, and need to have confidence that the device is going to last, and it does. It gives us confidence that the device can handle all sorts of environments, and still deliver for us.”

Additionally, the Toughbook offers flexibility for their engineers, making it easier for them to go around without having to worry about battery life or connectivity.  Engineers can go the day without having to worry about connectivity or having to connect to hardwire broadband and download. Using Toughbook, they can be mobile and easily connect wherever the job takes them.

The 3-month completion of the Toughbook deployment was extremely fast, Driscoll says, and the level of feedback they’ve received from engineers has been fantastic. “It’s unprecedented for something we’re doing that impacts their day to day lives, and it’s generally unsolicited, very positive feedback. We’re looking forward to continuing to work with the device in front of our customers and throughout our operation.”

For more information on Panasonic Toughbook, please visit