BT says lightning may have caused phone blackout
BT has issued a statement in a bid to explain why a fault at one of its radio transmitters caused major disruption on Saturday.
The communications company said damage may have been caused by previous lightning strikes, but they could not confirm that to be the case.
Mobile phone and landline connections were lost for several hours, and Sumburgh Airport closed at lunchtime because of the problem.
Eleven flights were cancelled and one was diverted to Kirkwall. Local businesses were also affected as they were unable to process card transactions for a number of hours.
BT said it experienced problems at Wideford Hill radio station in Orkney at 1pm on Saturday which affected services in Orkney and Shetland.
The company said engineers traced the fault to blown rectifiers and fuses at the radio station and service was restored about five hours later when all the blown equipment was replaced.
Isles MSP Tavish Scott, said yesterday that major questions needed to be answered.
BT is investigating the problem and this afternoon the organisation’s press office Ian Arnot provided the following unattributed statement:
“The BT network serving Orkney and Shetland is designed to provide back-up for most services in most scenarios.
“The Wideford Hill facility and other sites route traffic over separate radio and sub-sea cable routes, to provide service resilience and protection against long-duration outages.
“However, following the damage to the power rectifiers and fuses, some traffic was found to be relying on Wideford for both the main and back-up paths.
“We are investigating why this happened and working on reconfiguring the network to prevent any repeat. It is possible that damage may have been caused by previous lightning strikes locally damaging our equipment, but we cannot confirm that at this stage. We’re sorry for the disruption caused on Saturday.”
The Shetland Times has asked for more information from BT and is waiting to hear back from the organisation.