By: Jeff Simmermon at 05:18 pm
As some of you may recall, we had a decent-sized outage in Bayside, Queens, NYC last week. It wasn’t catastrophic – affected maybe 10,000 customers – but it was big enough to be worth mentioning on Facebook and our online care Twitter handles. We got the word that there was a fiber cut – and regular readers of this blog know that those things are no joke.
In this case, a power line fell onto our fiber-optic cable, sizzling right through it and knocking out broadband, cable and phone service for thousands of customers. While restoring services to our customers is a top priority, it is actually not the highest priority in the situation.
In a downed power line situation, the top priority is safety. Our guys couldn’t access the area and begin repairs until ConEd crews finished working. Please don’t interpret this as a complaint: when there’s a live wire sparking on the ground it’s both a fire and electrical hazard. Our guys are dedicated, but no broadband service is worth dying over.
Once our guys could get in, they worked straight through the night and wrapped it up, restoring service to the area in the early morning.
Here are a few photos of the melted, bubbling fiber-optic cables, taken at the scene.
First, here’s the downed power line:
It’s important to understand that even though cable and broadband seem ephemeral and constant, they’re still part of the physical world. It takes a very complicated system of real objects to deliver our services to your home – and they’re subject to all of the same strain, failure and chaos that everything else is. Roads get potholes, trains get stopped by debris, and sometimes the wind knocks down an electric line.
Usually, everything works smoothly. But all technology exists at this fragile place between the natural world and a tremendous amount of interlocking and complicated systems. Sometimes all it takes is a big windy gust, a few extra inches of rain, or a regularly occurring astronomical phenomenon to remind us of that.”