BT deploys 5,900 touch-enabled Panasonic Toughbooks for Openreach staff
BT has announced it will deploy almost six thousand Toughbook CF-C1 hybrid tablet computers among its Openreach staff who administer BT’s chunk of the nation’s broadband infrastructure, as part of the drive to adopt Windows 8.
The Toughbooks have been chosen by engineers themselves among dozens of Windows 8 devices, available during so-called ‘hot house’ sessions run by BT.
The company hopes modern devices will improve productivity in the field and make work in extreme conditions easier.
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Panasonic describes its Toughbooks as ‘rugged convertible tablet computers’. The CF-C1 is fully touch enabled, but has a keyboard that can be folded behind the screen or used as a stand. It features the latest generation Intel Core i5-2520M (2.5GHz) processor and the Intel HD 3000 GPU for enhanced multimedia capabilities.
The hybrid supports 3G connectivity with an Ericsson F5521gw HSPA+ (3.5G) module, delivering download speeds up to 21 Mbps. It comes with a moulded ergonomic hands-free strap, spill-resistant keyboard and up to 12 hours battery life with its twin hot swappable-batteries. There’s also a 1.3 megapixel front web camera for collecting photographic evidence.
BT is a participant in Microsoft’s First Wave programme – an initiative to drive early adoption of Windows operating systems, introduced with Windows 7. Speaking at a Microsoft event earlier this month, Peter Scott, CTO for end-user systems at BT, explained that the choice of the computer was entrusted to the engineers themselves.
BT offered Openreach staff to test a wide variety of Windows 8 devices including laptops, tablets and hybrids. The favourite design was a convertible tablet with instant-on and smartcard support.
The deal is the first to be announced as a result of Panasonic’s early decision to make its Toughbook range Windows 8 ready.
“The ability to combine Panasonic Toughbook’s rugged hardware with Microsoft’s most user-friendly operating system was a major influence in our investment decision. The new devices will be faster, more reliable and more intuitive to use, meaning our engineers will be able to respond even more effectively to our customers’ needs,” commented Scott.
In cooperation with Microsoft, multiple BT apps will be converted for use with Windows 8, including legacy applications. Additionally, a suite of new custom-built apps will utilise the CF-C1 touch screen.
“With Windows 8, our goal was to deliver both the experiences people love and the enterprise-grade solutions that organisations need,” said Erwin Visser, senior director of the Windows Commercial business at Microsoft.
“The combination of the intuitive touch interface of Windows 8 with Panasonic’s professional convertible Toughbook CF-C1 gave BT an easy-to-use and ruggedised form factor that enabled its field engineers to work from almost any location, whether it be a vehicle or a telephone pole,” he added.
Earlier this month, BT announced that the rollout of the Infinity fibre network to two-thirds of the country has been brought forward and is now expected to be completed by spring of 2014, more than 18 months ahead of its original schedule.
And last week, the company had demonstrated the ‘world’s first’ live 10Gbps broadband network as part of the of the Superfast Cornwall project.
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