Thousands of “superfast” broadband customers were cut off this morning after workmen cut the fibre optic link near Sandwick.
Urgent work was continuing this afternoon to reconnect the cable, which runs from Maywick to Listina House in Lerwick, and was laid by Shetland Telecom four years ago as the key part of Shetland’s broadband infrastructure.
A contractor working for BT sawed through the cable, which in parts runs lengthwise under the tarmac of the A970. Other sections of the cable are laid under the roadside verge. BT hires bandwidth on the cable to supply its own broadband services.
The company is undertaking a three-year programme of “superfast” broadband rollout throughout Shetland as part of the Digital Scotland programme of broadband upgrade and it was during the course of this work the cable was cut.
Digital Scotland spokesman Mitch Reid said yesterday: “Contractors working on the Digital Scotland project cut through a Shetland Telecom cable at Sandwick earlier today. 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.
“Our contractors also liaised with the council before the work got underway and this cable was not mentioned.”
“Our contractors use up to date maps showing where underground equipment is buried and this cable was not on them.
“We don’t know how many people lost service but can confirm that BT’s network has not been affected.”
It is a part of a wider scheme to get 85 to 95 per cent of premises in Scotland connected to superfast broadband by 2017. The target for Shetland is for 76 per cent of isles premises to be within reach of connection to the superfast service by next year.
Lubin Poulton of internet service provider Shetland Broadband said that it was his understanding that “pretty much anyone” on the superfast fibre link in Shetland would have their internet cut off.
The internet was lost around 10am and engineers got it reconnected around 2pm on Wednesday.