A ship dragging its anchor in the English Channel has cut three out of the four undersea cables connecting to the island of Jersey.
Communications services for residents may be slow as all traffic from Jersey is now being routed via France, through an unaffected submarine cable that lies on the other side of the island.
Although submarine cable breaks are relatively common, and ships anchors are the most common cause of cable breaks, it is unusual for three to be cut in such a short space of time, as happened on Monday evening.
Daragh McDermott, director of corporate affairs for JT, said: “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.”
JT, Sure (previously Cable & Wireless) and BT are co-owners of two of the severed cables, UK-Channel Islands-8, and Guernsey-Jersey-4, and have been working together to organise repairs.
The operators immediately dispatched a specialist cable repair ship, and hopes that the first cable will be repaired within the week, depending on the weather and the extent of the damage. Another ship is en route from France to repair the second cable and the third repair will follow.
“We have been able to move quickly to address this unprecedented issue partly because of assistance from Sure, and I would like to thank them for that important support,” McDermott said.
Sure has been providing technical support and also capacity on the HUGO submarine cable, which it owns, to re-route traffic back to the UK (via France, we assume). While JT lost all direct connections to the UK, Sure said only voice traffic on its network was affected by the undersea cable cuts.
JT says it is monitoring its network closely but it has seen little impact on customer services – although there may be some disruption at peak times.
“Thanks to the actions taken since the cables were cut, we have capacity in place to manage demand, although we have obviously lost spare capacity should further issues arise,” McDermott commented.
He added: “I am pleased to say that so far disruption has been kept to an absolute minimum and I would especially like to thank our engineering teams, who have been working around the clock to keep the islands connected via our cable link with France, and our customers for their understanding.