Ever seen the insurance ad that goes something like, “Insurance: when you need it, you really need it” alongside a photograph of a house with extensive […]

Tales of Fiber Network Outages

Ever seen the insurance ad that goes something like, “Insurance: when you need it, you really need it” alongside a photograph of a house with extensive […]

outside plant infrastructure showing connections in a cityEver seen the insurance ad that goes something like, “Insurance: when you need it, you really need it” alongside a photograph of a house with extensive damage? Fiber network documentation goes something like that: when you need it, you really need it. Fiber networks are, by their nature, vulnerable to damage.

Wondering what the top sources of damage to fiber networks are?

1. Animals
Animals are a major source of damage to fiber networks, as you may already be aware. One report actually states that squirrels do 17% of the damage to fiber networks. Take a walk down memory lane with this story from the ‘80’s:

Squirrel Takes Out NASDAQ Network
In 1987, a rogue squirrel actually took down the New York Stock Exchange. It took hours to get full service back up and running.

2. Vehicle Damage
Cars and trucks present a big problem when it comes to fiber networks. In Zimbabwe last year, for example, the country lost the Internet for five hours due to a tractor cut (accidentally) through major fiber-optic cables. Closer to home, a garbage truck in Wisconsin caused a major network outage.

3. Vandalism
Unfortunately, fiber optic networks are vulnerable to attacks. In Silicon Valley in 2013, for instance, someone cut fiber-optic cables and created a major blackout for thousands of residents. The FCC actually states that over 1,000 malicious attacks have been carried out against fiber-optic networks since 2007 alone.

4. Accidents & Nature
Sometimes things happen that can’t be prevented, despite the best of efforts and security. A ship’s anchor reportedly clipped underwater fiber-optic cables and took out large swaths of Internet throughout India and the Middle East. A small airplane in Burbank, California caused an outage during landing in a residential area, causing aerial cables to come crashing down.

5. Human Error (i.e Grandma & Grandpa)
In 2011, a 75 year-old woman from Georgia was responsible for cutting fiber access to all of Armenia when her spade sliced through the main fiber link connecting Georgia and Armenia. The damage? 3.2 million Armenian residents lost Internet for 5 hours. While the cable would have been better secured in general, bad weather had caused it to become exposed to the elements (and the grandparents).

To make a long story short, whenever your fiber network is exposed to the elements, its vulnerable to the elements. Although tales of squirrels taking down NASDAQ and grandmothers causing Internet blackouts for whole countries are entertaining, we’re fairly certain they’re not a barrel of laughs for the folks who end up troubleshooting them. When the network is out, you’ve got to find out what’s impacted and where — fast.

The network is fragile, so your documentation about it better be as strong as possible. When you have fiber network documentation, you can fully trace an outage and restore it properly (and quickly).

Jason Sherman
Jason Sherman
As Graphical Networks’ Sales Engineering and Support Services Manager, Jason Sherman leads the pre and post sales cycle with the entire Graphical Networks software portfolio, and ensures current customers are able to use the software to its fullest potential.

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