Shetland Telecom: Fibre Optic Cable

Work to improve telecommunications has included connecting the islands to the cable that runs from Faroe to the Scottish mainland and which crosses Shetland between Maywick and Sandwick.

  • Contract Value: £450,000
  • Client: Shetland Telecom

Project Description

This project involved laying the fibre optic cable required to connect Shetland Telecom’s hub in Lerwick with the Sandwick landfall of the Faroese cable. The cable was laid under the public road over a distance of approximately 20km. The contract value was £450,000. Shetland Telecom is owned by Shetland Islands Council.

We were able to lay up to 450m of cable a day and at least 2km each week. Technically, it would have been possible to lay even more, but we were constrained by traffic management requirements. The work was also weather-dependent, since the backfilling of the micro-trench can only be undertaken in fair conditions. We bought the specialised micro-trenching equipment – a Ditch Witch cutter and tractor – especially for the job.

The work involved cutting a slot 100mm deep by 20mm wide in the in carriageway. We then laid a foam packer in the bottom of the slot, inserted the cable, added a further foam packer above it and then reinstated the road with a chemical resin.

With this specialised equipment, we are able to lay four or five times more cable per day than is possible using conventional trenching. We are interested in tendering for similar cable-laying projects either in Shetland or elsewhere in the UK.

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