Scilly’s Council Clarifies How Planes Affect Their Computers

skybus-planes-at-airportThe Council has issued a detailed explanation of the technical problems affecting IT equipment at their Porthmellon offices.

Their claim that flights were causing communication problems with their computer systems have been ridiculed by some locals in comments on ScillyToday.

On Monday, Council Chairman Amanda Martin told Radio Scilly that they were quitting the site and relocating staff because of the disruption.

“As the Porthmellon building is under the flight path,” she said, “there are regular problems with IT, making it a poor choice for important local authority departments.”

The Council now says that, following a need to increase internet bandwidth between sites in 2012, they chose a wireless solution.

At £1,400, this was much cheaper than a costly fixed line, which costs £38,000 for three years or high-grade radios, at £4,000.

Unfortunately the system utilises the 5GHz frequency used by aircraft navigation systems, and when it detects a higher priority signal, it drops the connection.

The Council says these dropouts were common last summer and correlated with landing times at the airport.

In July 2013, they decided not to upgrade the system as the reorganisation would make them unnecessary.

You can read the full technical explanation on the Council’s website here.


5 Responses to Scilly’s Council Clarifies How Planes Affect Their Computers

  1. IT 3.0 May 1, 2014 at 10:12 am

    It does beg to question why the council do not just settle for Remote Desktop virtualisation throughout the whole authority, thus negating the need for all of the equipment they have dotted about the islands. And why did they settle for 5ghz wireless technology over the old, working 2.4ghz systems between their remote sites, surely bandwidth demands can’t be that intense!? The problem with 5ghz wireless is that it requires a clear and direct line of sight, it cannot transmit very well through obstacles etc, it’s expensive etc… Sure you get more bandwidth and a more consistent signal when it does work, but for reliability over short distances on St. Mary’s, I would choose 2.4ghz any day.

  2. Really? May 1, 2014 at 12:16 am

    Does it matter if their computers ‘drop connection’ momentarily? Is any email/data transfer that important that it can’t wait 30 seconds to a minuet for a plane to pass over head?

  3. Nobby Nobbs April 30, 2014 at 10:15 pm

    When the council resurfaced the Porthmellon industrial estate last year, in an uncharacteristic moment of forward thinking (Kudos to the lovely Diana Monblokie) they provided each building with its own duct in readiness for superfast broadband, so if the council had waited another few months they could have had a fibre optic cable directly into the building in question. The cost of a direct fibre cable is nowhere near the amount needed to replace the radio system, or to relocate to other offices.
    And as I’ve said before the council could always provide its own fibre optic cable between council offices through the council owned sewer system using direct labour, so it would cost them absolutely nothing to install and run a private cabled link just like they have to all their other buildings.

  4. Vaughan Ashby April 30, 2014 at 9:41 pm

    And the person implementing the system didn’t know that it was the same frequency as aircraft transmissions yet there is an airport nearby, unbelievably amateurish. So surely the option is to now go for the ‘high grade’ radios at a cost of £4k; cheaper than relocating? Also, isn’t the new fibre optic cable going right outside the Porth Mellon estate at speeds of 100mb/s. Surely it can’t cost £38,000 to take a spur a few metres off the main road to the offices? A BT cabinet only costs £13,000 so I’m not sure where the £38,000 comes from. We in mainland rural areas can only dream of getting speeds of 2mb/s yet alone 100mb/s so shouldn’t the council be grateful for this gift?

  5. Jenny. April 30, 2014 at 6:46 pm

    Drops its’ connection. I am fast accepting that the Isles of Scilly Council has lost their connection with the Isles of Scilly public and no amount of relocation will prevent further disillusionment.