Oh Shet: Scottish Islands in the Dark After Deep Sea Internet Cable Disruption

Oh Shet: Scottish Islands in the Dark After Deep Sea Internet Cable Disruption

The Scottish islands of Shetland are taking a digital hit as a deep-sea internet cable has reportedly been compromised. The islands, located northeast of Scotland, are seeing landline and mobile phone outages.

Shetland Islands are a remote archipelago between Scotland’s mainland and Norway. The islands were rocked earlier this morning by widespread phone and internet outages, including landlines and mobile phones, after an internet cable south of Shetland experienced interruptions. Some media outlets report that the deep-sea internet cable was sliced but Police Scotland did not confirm to Gizmodo that cables were cut, citing “data protection” in their email response.

Illustration: Datawrapper
Illustration: Datawrapper

“We are working with partners to ensure people across Shetland have access to emergency services. Officers and vehicles from across Scotland are being sent to assist until normal service is resumed,” said David Ross in a press release. Ross is the Superintendent of Police Scotland. “They will be ready to be deployed on Friday, 21 October, and will remain as long as necessary.”

Police have since dispatched resources to the islands, allowing the public to access emergency services, and encouraged the public to try calling the emergency line if needed even without a phone signal. The Guardian reports that the internet cable was accidentally dredged up by a trawler earlier this morning. Maggie Sandison, the chief executive of Shetland Islands council, told the outlet that the service interruption was likely to last until Sunday as crews begin to work on the issue.

Now is probably a good time to remind you all of the wild fact that our world’s internet is connected through submarine communication cables. These cables span ocean floors and connect different landmasses, and are thus subject to accidents and natural disasters. Earlier this year, a volcanic eruption in Tonga threatened to keep the country offline for weeks after its internet cables were damaged.


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