The "Baby Bells" are rushing toward an all-fiber infrastructure at lightspeed, but IMNSHO they seem unable - or unwilling - to consider the long-term costs.
The fiber-based infrastructure that is so seductive to experts looking for quick fixes and easy money has a downside that nobody is talking about - it's brittle.
Fargo, North Dakota may seem insignificant, but wait until a tugboat drags its anchor alone the East river in New York - or an oil trunk catches fire in one of the tunnels - and then watch the "experts" run for cover and point fingers at anyone else.
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FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) Phone and internet services were impacted by a damaged CenturyLink fiber cable on Friday.
The loss of services even put a damper on many travel plans at Hector International Airport.
The Valley News team explains how airlines had to resort to some non-technological ways.
Contractors were hard at work on a city project off 19th Avenue North and Broadway when they hit a CenturyLink fiber cable causing a loss of many services.
We can be pretty sure that won't be in Fargo. But it won't be hard to figure out where, the info is available from various sources, including permits and navigation charts. Cryptome (sort of a predecessor of wikileaks) even publishes maps and aerial photos...
***** Moderator's Note *****
Well, then, thank Ghod for all those satellites, safely out-of-reach up in the Clarke belt.
An almost-fail-safe solution to the cut-fiber problem is route diversity. Either two separate fibers from A to B over different routes (and if possible, carried by different carriers), or a loop from A to B to C to D to ... and back to A. With a loop every point should receive the identical signal from both directions (possibly offset by a few milliseconds) A failure in any leg of the loop doesn't cut service to any point, and makes it possible to identify the failed leg.
Another consideration is route location. Underground routes are subject to accidental cuts (as the case at hand illustrates) when located along or near public roads, and especially in urban and suburban areas where they may be damaged by construction activity nearby, or in the roadway itself. Pole-mounted routes are subject to thermal expansion/contraction, wind, icing, squirrels, guns, drunk drivers, oversize trucks, and fires.
Probably the safest underground routes are along railroads. Most mainline railroad rights-of-way have been stable for a century and likely to remain so even if they get converted into hiking/biking trails. Conduits on the sides of, or under, bridges often carry communications fibers.
The safest aerial routes use OPGW (optical ground wire) in which the fiber is encased inside the steel "static wire" at the top of transmission lines. See, for example:
The static wire is grounded and is intended to protect the power conductors from lighting.
One of the first companies to build an OPGW line was Norlight, based in Madison, Wisconsin. Norlight built an OPGW line from Minneapolis to Maple Grove, Illinois, along existing electric power transmission lines. At Maple Grove they connected to underground fiber leased from Williams Communications, Inc. to extend the link to downtown Chicago. In the years since Norlight has expanded its network throughout Indiana and Michigan.
Disclosure: I served as a contractor at Norlight during the early construction phase of the Minneapolis-Maple Grove segment.
***** Moderator's Note *****
I thought the extra wires on three-phase transmission lines were used to carry the imbalance currents, and that the long-haul high-tension wires were connected in "Wye" fashion and would need the extra wire as a ground. Not so?
I believe the higher voltage transmission lines are normally connected "delta" meaning there is no imbalance current. The distribution lines such as the ones that run down your street usually are connected "wye" and have a neutral for any imbalance current.