AS the biggest maritime celebration in 12 years is to kick off on Thursday, British Telecom is working flat out to increase much needed capacity and speed on Shetland’s overstretched broadband connections.
The telecommunications giant said on Wednesday that islanders and thousands of visitors were experiencing slow speeds for two reasons: congestion in the network and too many cruise ships in the area interfering with the radio links between Shetland and the Scottish mainland.
A BT spokesman said interference from ships in the area have now been reported to the regulator OFCOM as vessels were not allowed to operate their satellite networks in a certain bandwidth within UK territorial waters.
Shetland MSP Tavish Scott said some broadband was generally slower than the sailing ships battling against northerly winds to arrive in Shetland for the Thursday start of the Tall Ships Races.
He said the disruption to the telecommunications network came at the most inconvenient time as Shetland was buzzing with visitors.
“Everyone needs and expects their mobile phone and laptop to have full speed internet access,” he said.
BT spokesman Mitch Reed said the company was fully aware of the problem and were doing all they could to alleviate the problems.
“BT is aware of two separate issues that have been affecting broadband on Shetland in the past few days. Firstly, congestion in the network appears to have been caused by significantly higher than usual demand for broadband services on the islands.
“This led to intermittent broadband problems, particularly at peak times for internet use.
“Core network engineers are working around the clock to resolve the issues and are installing new hardware to increase capacity while work is ongoing on major long-term projects. We’re sorry for any disruption that has been caused in the interim.”
He added: “Secondly, disruption to the radio links from the mainland to the Shetland Islands has been caused by cruise ships in the region operating on similar frequencies.
“This has affected services to end users, including loss of service and disconnection when online.
“This has been reported to OFCOM as its Policy guidance regarding authorisation for Earth Stations on Vessels (ESVs) states that: ESVs operating to satellite networks in the band 5925-6425 MHz, are not authorised within 300km of the UK coastline.”
Lerwick Port Authority and relevant shipping agents have also been informed.
Please see also: Really fast broadband for the Tall Ships – thanks to Faroe Telecom
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