Over the past quarter of a century, the easyNetworks team have completed some weird and wonderful projects for clients locally, nationally and internationally.
The range of services we provide covers every aspect of IT and telecoms including cloud phone systems and mobile data through to remote working solutions, data cabling, fibre networks and Wi-Fi installations.
Here, Head of Projects Paddy Reed and Contracts Manager Graham Whatley take us through some of the highs, lows and standout moments of the 9,000 projects we’ve worked on.
Biggest project to date
We fitted out data centres in Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam for a major client on a contract worth over £2m.
The deadline for the first phase was two months from getting the go-ahead, so every single member of our business worked on it. Managing a project across three countries and multiple languages was quite a challenge but we got the job done.
We’ve also done plenty of smaller jobs – nothing’s too big or too small for us!
Most awkward to reach
We installed a satellite phone system on a luxury superyacht in Pisa, Italy. Just as we completed the job, all flights were grounded because of an ash cloud caused by a volcanic eruption in Iceland, so our engineers had to drive home crammed in a hired Fiat 500…what a come down.
More recently, we installed a Wi-Fi network for a marina on the south coast and our engineers used kayaks to install fibre optic cable underneath a floating gangway to reach pontoons. So whatever the environment, we always have people that are prepared to “row” the extra mile…
Very many years ago during a network installation at Portsmouth Guildhall we accidently drilled through a power cable that was buried deep in a wall which caused the Mayor’s office chandelier to go dark and the Guildhall Tower Clock to stop. The Portsmouth Evening News headline the next day reported “Time stands still in Portsmouth”. The fault was repaired quickly but the poor engineer is still teased to this day, even though it happened more than 15 years ago.
On another occasion, our installation team were working on-site on a really hot day in an office that quickly became more like a sauna. After a very long day they stopped for something to eat at a service station. Whilst they were in the queue they noticed other customers were keeping their distance, leading to the realisation that the team were somewhat ‘fragrant’.
The jobs we’re most proud of are amongst our most recent, working with the NHS on various projects to help tackle the pandemic, including the installation of new networks for the COVID-19 vaccination centres in Portsmouth, Southampton and Basingstoke. When you hear of friends who’ve had their jabs in a centre that we helped get up and running, it’s a really proud moment.
We have continued to work with the NHS on vital infrastructure projects in all our local hospitals throughout the pandemic. It’s mission critical stuff and our engineers are considered frontline staff and have been vaccinated themselves.
We’ve also installed Wi-Fi networks in care homes so that residents can have access to iPad consultations with doctors as well as talking to their loved ones from the comfort of their favourite armchair, using applications such as; Whatsapp, Facetime, Zoom and Messenger. That’s really pleasing, because we know our work is having a positive impact at a really difficult time.
The thing we are most proud of is our staff who continue to work in very difficult environments, often having to wear uncomfortable and cumbersome PPE for long periods and still complete projects with tight deadlines.
Most exciting jobs
Many of our team are avid football fans so we were really excited to upgrade the network at the Vitality Stadium when AFC Bournemouth were promoted to the Premier League. Along with the excitement of working with a top tier football club, the project also had incredibly tight timescales, and needed a multitude of creative solutions, making for an exciting summer.
We put in new a new network and Wi-Fi throughout the stadium; new phone system and call centre for their ticket office and; new state of the art press desks with outdoor displays with a direct feed to the TV trucks in the outside broadcasting area – and lots more to get their IT fit for the Premier League. At one point, all our staff were working there. We are a “can-do” business and everyone mucks in to meet deadlines, even if they’re just operating a vacuum cleaner.
Most historic projects
We’re proud to be based in Portsmouth with its rich maritime history, and we have worked on many of the major heritage attractions in the city.
Installing a network at the 16th century Southsea Castle was a challenge. It was pretty tricky running cables while protecting the aesthetics of the castle, especially as there were no false ceilings to hide them behind.
We also installed fibre infrastructure and internal network cabling at the Portsmouth Historic Dockyards, including the museum, HMS Victory and the Mary Rose. There are underground ducts containing dead rats there – and you don’t want to be working down a manhole when the tide comes in!
Last year we installed fibre, voice and IP cabling on LCT 7074, the last surviving landing craft tank in the UK used in the D-Day landings, now fully restored and on show at the D-Day Story museum on Southsea seafront and shown in the photo above.
Toughest weather challenges
When we worked on Warwick Castle, it got down to minus five degrees. That makes cables stiff – and your fingers, too. Working in a loft in a heatwave is also challenging, so engineers work in half-hour shifts before taking breaks. Looking after our people is a top priority.
Tightest turnaround times
Our contracts with marine clients have taken us to ports in the UK, Ireland, France and Spain. Our engineers have put in cabling and equipment so ferries can communicate as they come into port known as ‘ship to shore’ communications. The work must be carried out during the ferries’ tight turnaround time, otherwise engineers are stuck on the ship for 24 hours.
Trusted by the emergency services
We’ve installed telecommunications in the new combined headquarters for the Hampshire Police and Fire & Rescue services. This was particularly nerve racking as the control rooms have to stay operational throughout, and if there’s a major incident, the whole site goes into lockdown.
Developing the business since 1995
MD Richard Gwilliam established easyNetworks 25 years ago and is still at the helm. Reflecting on the history of the business, Richard said :
From hospitals to historic ships and financial services to football clubs, we’ve done it all here at easyNetworks over the last 25 years. We’re proud to have completed 9000 IT and telecoms projects for our clients regionally, nationally and internationally and there are many more to come. We’ve worked in every sector you can think of, from tourism to healthcare, construction to education and manufacturing to retail, and we’re confident our expertise can help your business. We are part of the easy family, so value is at the heart of everything we do and the customer always comes first. Whatever your IT and telecoms requirements, we’ll get the job done – we look forward to hearing from you!
What’s your next IT & telecoms project?
We love a challenge here at easyNetworks. Call us on 0800 1313 100 or contact us here to discuss your next project today.