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SIC seeks government talks over internet resilience

Some SIC e-mail systems were still affected by the capacity issues on Monday.

SHETLAND Islands Council (SIC) is seeking urgent talks with the Scottish Government and local government internet provider Capita after the council’s communication links were among the hardest hit during on-going undersea cable repairs.

The SIC’s telephone and internet services have been suffering from reduced capacity since Thursday after Faroese company Shefa commenced with planned emergency work on its telecom cable linking Shetland and Orkney to the rest of the UK.

Work on the Shefa-2 cable was initially scheduled to last until Sunday morning, but it is now due to be completed early on Tuesday, according to Shefa chief executive Pall Versturbu.

While many services in the isles were unaffected by the work as service providers simply re-routed traffic through Faroese Telecom’s network of undersea cables, the SIC’s telephone system stopped working and its website was down until Friday.

On Monday, the local authority was still struggling with an unreliable e-mail system, although some messages managed to come through.

The council’s chief executive Maggie Sandison expressed concern over the lack of resilience in the set-up.

“The council will be discussing the lack of resilience, and impact on delivering services, with our internet provider and the Scottish Government,” she said on Monday afternoon.

Meanwhile NHS Shetland said they had not been affected by the disruptions as “NHS services take priority and communication has been moved to a back-up subsea fibre cable routed through the Faroe Islands, Iceland, Scandinavia and back to Britain”.

BT said they also had still a few residential customers without broadband.

A spokeswoman for Capita said the SIC was not a direct customer of the Scottish Wide Area Network (SWAN) which the company provides for a number of public service organisations, but was using “a SWAN service for its corporate and education internet access”.