Landmarc and UK Connect have worked in partnership to enable vital broadband provision at the Defence Infrastructure Organisation’s (DIO) Halton Training Camp, a key asset in the Ministry of Defence’s (MOD) Covid-19 strategic response.

Halton Camp is located on the MOD’s Defence Training Estate in Lancashire and is currently hosting reservist troops as they prepare to deploy on operations in support of the military’s COVID Support Force.  Due to the camp’s remote and rural location, the required infrastructure to support effective digital connectivity is limited, presenting challenges for troops looking to access basic internet services to stay in touch with friends and family at home.

Landmarc, which manages the UK Defence Training Estate in partnership with DIO approached UK Connect, a leading supplier of temporary communication solutions, to see if the team could assist. Two days later, the camp was fully operational with reliable, unrestricted broadband and Wi-Fi access for every reservist on site.

Mark Neill, Managing Director at Landmarc said, “We were approached by DIO to prepare Halton Camp in readiness for the arrival of troops embarking on essential training in the fight against COVID-19.  As well as ensuring all basic facilities, such as the sleeping and eating quarters, were prepared in time, we wanted to ensure that the regiment would also be able to enjoy the comfort and support provided by effective internet services while away from home.

“Landmarc has supported UK Connect since the business began as an X-Forces Enterprise start-up in 2013. The military background of founder PJ Farr, their commitment to the Armed Forces Covenant and ability to deliver rapid mobile communication infrastructure made it the perfect choice to help us deploy an effective solution to improve the welfare of our Armed Forces using the camp to train.”

PJ Farr, Managing Director at UK Connect, said, “We typically deliver our connectivity services to temporary construction sites, where rapid set-up of broadband and Wi-Fi services are often required.  This experience, coupled with our military roots, meant that we could appreciate the unique challenges of the training environment and the needs of the troops that would be stationed on site.

“Our remit was that Wi-Fi and broadband must be made available for all users in every room, that it must be unrestricted and easy to use and that it had to be delivered in a timescale of just two days.

“In normal circumstances, we would conduct an initial site survey to ascertain the precise site demands, usually working to a ten-day window. However, due to the tight turnaround required, we were able to install the entire communications’ provision in just 12 hours across the whole camp.

“All of the occupied accommodation units and welfare facilities, as well as outdoor areas and the recreation ground, are now connected to support the broader spread of troops who are following strict social distancing rules on camp.

“It’s very simple to connect. Users can access the network by using their smart phone to scan a QR code, which is displayed on posters around the different locations. We are also providing a 24/7 support line to ensure that troops can always stay connected around their training regime.”

One user commented, “I use Wi-Fi constantly, up to this point, I’ve had no loss of connection, whilst using multiple devices. Having such a reliable service has massively boosted the morale of soldiers on site as it has made communications with friends and family so much easier. I now feel very confident I can chat with my family 24hrs a day, which is hugely reassuring as I don’t know how long my absence from home will continue.”

Colonel Phil Cook, Deputy Head of UK Training for DIO, concluded, “Wi-Fi is a key requirement and the lack of it can impact on the morale of troops – even more so during this difficult time of COVID-19.  This initiative by Landmarc and UK Connect delivered an excellent solution at short notice in support of military personnel on the COVID Support Force, enabling them to keep in touch with family and friends when off duty.”