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Community / Shetland fully connected once again

FULL broadband services have been restored to all users in Shetland after repairs to the damaged Shefa-2 subsea cable were completed on Sunday afternoon.

Broadband to users whose internet service provider had no back-up capacity on the same cable running north rather than south had their service disrupted for large parts of last week while the damaged section of the cable had to be replaced.

Faroese Telecom managing director Páll Højgaard Vesturbú told Shetland News: “The repair was completed yesterday afternoon (Sunday) at around 15:00 and the system was then turned on again.”

It all started ten days ago when Shetland suffered an almost full connectivity blackout when the Faroese own cable was damaged a few miles to the east of Shetland’s south mainland.

Some services were restored temporarily on the same day, but it took a few days for the repair ship Cable Vigilance to complete another job on the same cable west of Shetland and then move to a location east of Troswick.

While services of some internet service providers were rerouted via Faroe, others such as Sky, Vodafone, TalkTalk and many more were not.

It frustrated many domestic users and led to lost productivity among many businesses, resulting in calls for improved resilience to the isles’ digital connectivity. For some it meant no internet for at least three days.

Many local businesses were unable to respond to e-mail enquiries or use internet-based services which are now common in almost every office.

Meanwhile, Shetland Islands Council had its own difficulties getting back online as its digital services are provided as part of the much larger Scotland-wide contract for all 32 local authorities.

In that regard Shetland is very much at the end of the line.

The council’s chief executive Maggie Sandison said a proper debrief of what can been learned from the incident will take place.

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“We are certainly going to do that debrief to look if there is anything we can buy that would add resilience for the council,” she said.

“A lot of people have considered satellite links since the break. We need to consider what enhancement we could get and how much that would cost to be in a better situation in the future.”

Shetland digital resilience is set to improved in the summer of next year when a third subsea cable, laid this summer by BT at part of the Scottish Government’s R100 programme, will be switched on.

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