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Broadband mostly restored

The 'ditch witch', which used microcutting technology to lay the fibre optic cable between Lerwick and Sandwick. Photo: Shetland Telecom

INTERNET service was restored on Wednesday lunchtime for many hundreds of Shetlanders who had been disconnected for more than 24 hours while engineers sought to repair a broken fibre optic cable.

Ian Brown of Shetland Broadband confirmed that most of its customers were reconnected at around 2pm on Wednesday.

He said that repairs were still ongoing to reconnect customers in the Sumburgh area, which he expected would be completed by 4pm.

A power saw operated by someone working for one of BT’s contractors accidentally dug up the cable, which runs between Maywick and the centre of Lerwick, on Tuesday morning.

“All together we had approximately 3,000 users offline when the cable was severed,” Brown added.

The cable – laid a couple of years back as part of Shetland Telecom’s SIC-aided efforts to upgrade the isles’ broadband infrastructure – was dug up at around 10am on Tuesday.

Shetland Telecom described it as a “major break” which had required “a complete replacement of a section of fibre”. It offered “sincere apologies to all customers” that had been affected.

A spokesman for Digital Scotland, a partnership between BT and the Scottish Government, confirmed contractors accidently cut through the cable.

He said: “The cable was not marked on their road maps and could not be seen in the road as it had recently been resurfaced, obscuring where the cable had been buried, some two-and-a-half inches under the surface.

“The contractors had liaised with the council prior to commencing the roadworks but were not made aware of this cable.”

The spokesman said Digital Scotland’s contractors had helped Shetland Telecom to reconnect the cable, adding: “We don’t know how many people lost service but can confirm that BT’s network has not been affected.”