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Lack of Redundancy

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  • Paul Rosa
    Coastal area silenced by cable break 01/04/03 Portland Oregonian JEFFREY KOSSEFF A fiber-optic line break cut off the southern Oregon coast from the rest of
    Message 1 of 2 , Jan 4, 2003
      Coastal area silenced by cable break

      01/04/03 Portland Oregonian

      JEFFREY KOSSEFF

      A fiber-optic line break cut off the southern Oregon coast from the
      rest of the world for much of
      Friday.

      After a state cleanup crew accidentally tore a
      CenturyTel fiber-optic cable at 9:30 a.m., residents and
      businesses from Reedsport to Brookings couldn't make
      or receive phone calls outside of the area or connect to
      the Internet.

      CenturyTel crews fixed the cable just before 5 p.m.,
      spokeswoman Carol Allen said.

      "I've been dying for my e-mail all day," Joseph Whitsett,
      mayor-elect of Bandon, said after phone service was
      restored.

      Most urban areas have more than one fiber line
      connecting local phone systems to long-distance
      networks, but less-populated regions typically depend
      on one fiber route. The outage demonstrates the need
      for companies to build multiple lines, creating backup
      networks, telecommunications experts said.

      An Oregon Department of Transportation crew clearing
      debris from a mudslide near Camas Valley on Friday
      morning cut a cable that connects the south coast to a network hub in
      Roseburg.

      Ted Paselk, an ODOT district manager, said before his workers dug
      along Oregon 42, they gave
      appropriate notice to a statewide utility hot line that locates
      underground utilities. They weren't told of
      the CenturyTel cable, he said.

      Neither Allen nor Paselk knew who would pay for the repair.

      "Usually, when a locate is called and they clear us in an area, then
      we're not paying the bill," Paselk
      said.

      Residents along the 135-mile stretch of the coast could call one
      another, but they could not call
      outside the area, said Melissa Barran, a spokeswoman for Verizon, the
      local phone company for
      most of the south coast region. Verizon connects its 50,000 area phone
      lines to the long-distance
      network over CenturyTel's cable.

      Calls to spots such as North Bend were met with a recorded message:
      "Due to local telephone
      company trouble in the area you are calling, your call cannot be
      completed at this time. Please try
      your call later."

      Besides blocking long-distance and Internet access for residents in
      the region, the outage kept other
      callers and Internet users from reaching phones or Web sites in the
      area.

      Although cell phones don't require wires, long-distance cell-phone use
      was out because cell towers
      connect to the long-distance phone network over the CenturyTel cable.

      Unless residents had costly phone or Internet connections via
      satellite, they were unable to
      communicate with the rest of the state, nation and world.

      "We're just sitting at the mercy of the repair crews," said Joseph
      Gayer, director of strategic
      relations at Bend-based Edge Wireless, a rural cell-phone carrier
      whose 9,000 customers in Coos
      and Curry counties lost long-distance service as a result of the fiber
      cut.

      Such outages have become more common since fiber-optic cable became
      the main method of
      transporting long-distance calls over the past decade, Gayer said.
      Without more than one fiber line
      in the same area, they will continue, he said.

      But laying fiber costs money, and many telecom carriers are reeling
      from fiber-overbuilding in urban
      areas. The largest investments in redundant loops came from the
      state's largest local phone
      company, Qwest Communications International. It spent $70 million on
      network upgrades, including
      five redundant fiber-optic loops throughout the state.

      In exchange for that improvement and investments in school technology,
      the state deregulated
      Qwest's profits.

      "Absent that kind of win-win situation for the company and the state,
      it makes it very difficult to have
      a business case (that will) pencil out that says, 'This is a good use
      of capital dollars," said Judy
      Peppler, Qwest's president for Oregon. "You're going to have some idle
      capacity at all times. But on
      the other hand, you don't have these outages."

      Qwest has completed construction of three of the fiber rings, and it
      will finish the other two by
      October. The backup networks have averted at least two outages in
      rural areas.

      "It is obviously very valuable, especially when you have businesses
      that rely on your network,"
      Peppler said.

      Irv Emmons, senior telecommunications engineer for the Oregon Public
      Utility Commission, said
      before Qwest built a backup network in Eastern Oregon, a farmer in
      Madras cut the area's main fiber
      cable a few times a year.

      "That used to isolate all of Eastern Oregon," Emmons said.

      Allen of CenturyTel said redundancy is "always of a high priority,"
      but she did not know whether
      backup networks were in the works for the south coast area.
    • Albert LaFrance
      That s definitely a cause for concern and a difficult issue to deal with in today s deregulated telecom environment, without the stick of government-mandated
      Message 2 of 2 , Jan 4, 2003
        That's definitely a cause for concern and a difficult issue to deal with in
        today's deregulated telecom environment, without the "stick" of
        government-mandated reliability levels and the corresponding "carrot" of a
        guaranteed return on the needed investment.

        This particular incident, though, sounds like something which would have
        been more-or-less equally probable in the Bell System era. The CenturyTel
        cable appears to be what would have been called a toll-connecting and
        toll-completing trunk; that is, the interface between the local BOC and the
        Long Lines network. The Bell System maps I've seen show many small and
        not-so-small towns had only a single link to the long-haul system.

        Albert

        ----- Original Message -----
        From: "Paul Rosa" <prosa@...>
        To: <coldwarcomms@yahoogroups.com>
        Sent: Saturday, January 04, 2003 11:19 AM
        Subject: [coldwarcomms] Lack of Redundancy


        > Coastal area silenced by cable break
        >
        > 01/04/03 Portland Oregonian
        >
        > JEFFREY KOSSEFF
        >
        > A fiber-optic line break cut off the southern Oregon coast from the
        > rest of the world for much of
        > Friday.
        >
        > After a state cleanup crew accidentally tore a
        > CenturyTel fiber-optic cable at 9:30 a.m., residents and
        > businesses from Reedsport to Brookings couldn't make
        > or receive phone calls outside of the area or connect to
        > the Internet.
        <SNIP>
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