DAMAGE to broadband cabinets, telephone poles and overhead wires across County Durham can now be reported to Openreach using precise locations from what3words.

What3words grids the whole Earth into three metre squares, with each square given unique words to make it easier to pinpoint an exact location.

For example, in County Durham, Durham Cathedral is recorded as ‘bigger.caged.table’, Barnard Castle is ‘rash.pioneered.salmon’ and Tunstall Reservoir is ‘newspaper.crimson.voices’.

Reporting the exact location of damage to Openreach’s nationwide phone and broadband network can sometimes prove difficult, particularly if the damage is in a rural or remote location or situated between villages or local landmarks.

Openreach’s 1,100 North East engineers and are able to use what3words and members of the public can report vandalism, damaged equipment or safety concerns by visiting Openreach’s website, or by calling 0800 023 2023 (Option 1).

Paul McGinlay, Openreach’s Director of Operations in the North, said: “This should make a huge difference to how safety issues and damage to our network are reported to us and how easy they are to find quickly.

"We have the largest phone and broadband network in the UK, used by hundreds of different service providers, covering everything from city centres to the most rural and remote locations.

"Many of our poles and overhead wires are in areas with no easily identifiable features nearby, so it can be tricky for people to report exactly which pole has been knocked over or which overhead wire is damaged.

“We’ve seen what3words used successfully by emergency services, where the ability for people to report the precise location of an incident has literally saved lives.

"Whilst a damaged pole or cabinet might not seem like a case of life or death, it is hugely important to our network is a key part of North East infrastructure keeping people connected.

“To use what3words, you simply need to visit the app or website and make a note of the three words like darling.lion.race that pinpoint your chosen location.

"When you report speak to Openreach, just let us know these three words, and we’ll take care of the rest.”