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      Stornoway, Broadbay & Lochs news

The malaise that leaves the Islands without reliable transport links is now spreading to telecommunications.

Earlier we reported how households on Great Bernera are being left with no telephone landline connections and only limited mobile signal. 

Now it seems this is part of a wider problem with households in Tolsta reporting the same sort of problem.

It's not clear exactly how many homes are affected but those hit by the fault have been unable to reliably make or receive calls since sometime last week.

One householder states: “Probably about ten days ago my wife noticed that she couldn’t make outgoing calls on the landline. She always got the engaged tone. Incoming calls were not affected.”

Their phone services supplier told them there was a problem affecting a large part of the Highlands and Islands but that it was expected to be fixed in a couple of days.

However, it wasn’t.  They were given a prefix number to put in front of the number they were dialling, but that didn’t work.

Their supplier’s technical expert got them to try six different prefix numbers, the last of which actually worked — seven digits!

He said BT had told him the problem was solved but he would get back to them. Later an Open Reach team parked on the road outside for a while. “Then one of them knocked on the door and said the issue was fixed. Guess what — it wasn’t.”

Another local resident said: "The incoming call may sometimes come through but when answered gets cut off.  Other times, the incoming call just hears a slow engaged tone.  

"There is a very poor one-bar mobile signal here in one spot within the house for communicating.  Others aren't that lucky!  

"More worryingly for us and others, my elderly mother uses the FAIRE alarm which will not operate due to the issue with the landline.  

"BT assure us it is being repaired but to take one of the biggest communications companies in the country this amount of time to repair is rather shocking to say the least.

"Some elderly people are on their own without an alarm and without a mobile, or strong mobile signal.

"I am sure the Openreach engineers are doing their best, but it needs to get resolved, and quickly."