Set up a Google alert for “communication outage” and you’re likely to see several articles a week about some contractor, somewhere in the U.S. accidentally cutting a major service provider’s fiber optic cable. We call him Backhoe Bob™.
This Tuesday a construction incident left CenturyLink customers near Las Vegas without service from 8 a.m. to 9:40 p.m.
The service outage affected phones (including 911 calls), Internet access and store purchases in the northwest Las Vegas Valley and on Mount Charleston. The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that “Banks and department stores in the area were unable to complete transactions.”
Outages are not only inconvenient, they cost businesses thousands of dollars in lost productivity and revenue. They also damage reputations. Last month we reported on the cost of network downtime and latency for businesses.
Last Saturday, a construction crew in Redmond, Washington, dug in the wrong place and ripped up vital fiber and copper wires. This caused a major telecommunications outage for nearly six thousand customers of Frontier Communications. Some were without service for several days.
The Cascadia Advocate reported that the outage “has resulted in a total, catastrophic failure of Frontier’s Internet, television, and phone services in the Redmond area. Affected households and businesses are not able to connect to the Net, watch any FiOS channels, or place calls (even emergency calls) through Frontier’s infrastructure.”
As of noon on Thursday, Frontier Communications reported copper voice and data services were still down. Some customers have been able to use free public Wi-Fi to communicate, but that is not viable for the heavy data flow businesses demand.
The Cascadia Advocate raised a good point about vulnerability, saying, “It’s sobering to think about what might happen to our critical infrastructure in the event of a natural disaster like an earthquake, or a human-caused calamity, like a terrorist attack. We are not as prepared for such events as we ought to be. To minimize telecommunication service disruptions, we should look at improving redundancy along with implementing better shielding to protect our core fiber optic cables from being cut, either accidentally or purposefully.”
We agree! In the meanwhile, a sensible and affordable form of redundancy every business can implement is to bring in a second provider with a service such as broadband, cable or wireless, that doesn’t use the same fiber infrastructure as the primary provider. That way, if (when) one link is down, the second link that is still in service can carry your business communication traffic.
By running both links through a load balancing and automatic failover wide area network (WAN) device, you can leverage the bandwidth of both links for faster network performance under normal circumstances and enjoy seamless failover in the event of an outage. For you, outages will be something you smile as you read about instead of suffering through.
The Cascadia Advocate concludes by saying, “Redundancy is a very good thing, and can guard against all sorts of problems… from data loss and hard disk failure to connectivity disruptions. We need more of it.”
If you’d like to protect your business against Backhoe Bob™ and other communication outages, please email us, call us at 1.800.669.6242, or fill out the form below. We’re here for you, no matter whose cables get cut.