Carmichael: Telecoms security is vital to isles

Resilience of telecoms cables in UK waters must be debated, says the Orkney and Shetland MP. 

After a communications blackout in the isles last week, Alistair Carmichael has urged government ministers to bring together political and business stakeholders urgently to discuss the resilience of telecommunications infrastructure. 

Mr Carmichael challenged the cabinet office minister Brendan Clarke-Smith MP, as well as the intergovernmental Islands Forum, to act to ensure that future damage to subsea connections is less disruptive to isles communities.

Speaking in the House Mr Carmichael said: “Last Thursday the main telecommunications cable between Shetland and the mainland was damaged, leaving most of my constituents in Shetland with no access to landline or broadband services.

“It was really fortunate that we were able to get services restored much more quickly than expected, but it is surely apparent that the system does not have the resilience that it needs.

“Would the minister agree to bring together the stakeholders involved and see what can be done as soon as possible to ensure that any future repetition of this does not leave us stranded in the way we were?”

Responding on behalf of the government, the cabinet office minister said: “I’m glad the situation has been resolved. 

“As I said regarding the Islands Forum this government is committed to making sure that island communities are fully represented and I am more than happy to continue these meetings. 

“I am certainly happy to meet any stakeholders to discuss how we can improve the situation.”

Mr Carmichael added that it was good the minister was willing to discuss the issue but highlighted that the issue won’t go away saying it could become “more important over the years.”


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