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BT fault knocks out coastguard

SHETLAND coastguard was forced to rely on radio power to run its rescue service on Tuesday afternoon and evening after a suspected lightning strike on Orkney downed its communications systems.

Around one quarter of the islands’ broadband users were also unable to use the internet due to the same fault.

The coastguard headquarters in Lerwick reported that its dedicated wire service went out of action just before 3pm.

This meant the four listening stations on hills at Saxa Vord, Collafirth, Compass Head and Fitful Head were all dead.

To compensate the service sent its shoreside coastguard teams up to Saxa Vord, Collafirth and Scousburgh Hill to listen on the emergency Channel 16 using their radios.

A spokesman said: “This means we are blind, deaf and dumb so we have sent some our guys to listen in on Channel 16.”

A BT spokesman said the problem was “under investigation”. He said: “It may have been lightning damage in one of our radio stations in Orkney and we have engineers looking at that.

“We reckon it’s probably affecting about 25 per cent of broadband traffic into Shetland.”

Shetland was hit by the major outage at the weekend that affected much of Scotland, Northern Ireland and northern England. There were also reports of broadband problems the previous week.

“It’s unusual for us to lose broadband two or three times in as many weeks,” the spokesman said.