Reflections two weeks on: Telecommunications in Jersey and Storm Ciarán

Reflections two weeks on: Telecommunications in Jersey and Storm Ciarán

Storm Ciarán had devastating consequences for some properties in Jersey and our hearts go out to those affected, while others were fortunate enough to suffer only limited damage. And while Storm Ciarán’s ferocity was out of the ordinary, gale and storm force winds have always been with us and, for the worst of those weather events, dealing with the resulting damage to communications and power networks often takes weeks and months of work.

This time around, in the face of Storm Ciarán, JT’s network and services weathered the storm exceptionally well. There was no impact on any government or enterprises services across the Island and just 16 homes lost connectivity due to fallen trees damaging underground fibres or some of the small amount of remaining overhead connections. Compared with other jurisdictions, these numbers are truly remarkable.

Modern equipment and infrastructure help to quickly reduce the disruption caused by storms, but the key building block that has made a difference to the resilience of JT’s network in the face of repeated significant storm damage was a strategic decision taken in the 1960s by the leaders of JT to start moving JT’s network from overhead to underground in the decades that followed. The storm of 1987 copper-fastened the very clear view that moving to underground networks was the correct strategy and efforts re-doubled to move remaining overhead lines underground wherever possible.

These pictures give a flavour of what I am referring to:


The decision taken to move to underground network was not a simple undertaking, but there was a far-reaching aspect to the decision that is worth noting: instead of just seeking to minimise storm disruption by investing in burying wires and cables underground, the brilliant decision was taken to install high quality ducts that ran all the way to people’s homes and businesses (something not replicated in other jurisdictions across the world). 

Roll forward another 30 years, and it should be noted that the move to install high-quality end-to-end cable ducts was the key that unlocked the potential of a fibre rollout in Jersey that could be completed without the requirement for major and costly civil works. The decision by JT in 2011 had the enthusiastic support of the States of Jersey, and we pressed ahead despite significant pushback from competitors and the regulatory authority of the day, safe in the knowledge that this was the right thing for customers and the right thing for Jersey.

As I write this in November 2023, on the back of a fantastic duct network that was a key enabler of a speedy full fibre rollout, we’re immensely proud that Jersey now benefits from the fastest broadband speeds in the world (see The quality and speed of the Island’s gigabit fibre network brings numerous benefits, including the relative ease with which people can continue with their lives and yet fully comply with the ‘stay at home’ public safety advice issued by the States of Jersey Police before, during and after Storm Ciarán (so continuing to work from home or educate from home and stay in touch with loved ones). Or to ensure that police, fire, ambulance, and other utility and relief agencies can seamlessly operate with the benefit of high-speed connectivity, video calls and sharing of valuable data, despite not all being in the same locations.

Further afield, the intensity of Storm Ciarán on the French mainland took down hundreds of poles and overhead wires leaving more than a million people without mobile services. The loss of French infrastructure also caused the loss of one of our data submarine cables to Normandy, but fortunately had zero impact as our services were automatically re-routed within milliseconds through northbound cables to the UK.

In conclusion, JT’s network and services weathered the storm well, this was by design and not by chance, and credit can be traced back to the sound decisions taken decades ago to move from overhead to an underground ducted network and then built upon more recently with the strategic decision to replace the copper lines in those ducts with fibre lines.

So on behalf of everyone in the Island that relies on connectivity, I offer my sincere thanks to the people across JT who prepared our services over many decades and worked diligently around the clock to maintain the smooth operation of our network during the most recent storm; it’s hugely appreciated and the absence of any news in relation to JT’s network during Storm Ciarán is most definitely good news!