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Marine accident severs Jersey-UK internet connection

Tue 29 Nov 2016

Submarine cables providing internet access between the UK and the isle of Jersey have been severed by a ship trawling its anchor on the ocean bed.

The Channel island is currently operating at reduced network connectivity due to severing of three fibre-optic cables yesterday. According to the website of network provider JT, communications to and from the Channel islands are currently being routed via submarine cables which connect the islands to France – though at compromised capacity.

Daragh McDermott, JT’s Director of Corporate Affairs for JT, commented:

“We would like to sincerely apologise to our customers for any disruption to their services. We are working as quickly as we can to get our undersea cables repaired, and normal service resumed, and will keep customers up-to-date with what is an extremely challenging emergency engineering operation at sea.

“It is exceptionally unlucky and unprecedented for three submarine cables to the UK to be cut in the same day, and it proves the value of having multiple links in the network, in order to provide a back-up connection via France.

“There are lots of cables running across the seabed, and we understand that it is not just JT who have been affected in this way, with other cables also having been cut.”

JT’s engineers have been working around the clock to repair the breach, and have mobilised specialist teams to address the problem. Though the company expects that the work will be completed as soon as possible. However, the company cannot state when the cables will be restored.

The connection between the UK and Jersey has not been as troubled in the last ten years as some other aquatic links around the world. Vietnam’s primary internet cable has needed to be repaired three times in ten years, more than once on account of sharks chewing on the cables. In January submarine cable operator Seacom was held to account for widespread network outages in Egypt, when civil construction work caused cable damage.

Not all the attackers have such obvious teeth: in 2015 undersea cable company Pacnet found itself directly attacked by hackers.

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