Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Melted Fiber-Optics and a Large NYC Outage

Some more great stuff from Jeff Simmermon – Subterranean Fires and Melted Fiber-Optics: What A Large Outage Looks Like:

If you follow our business really closely, you probably know that we had a pretty big outage in the East Village on October 6th. You sure know about it if you happen to live in New York City and have a Twitter account – it was understandably all over the place.

The New York Times’ East Village blog mentioned this, naturally. Essentially, a number of nodes connected to this portion of fiber lost network connectivity, interrupting service to approximately 24,000 customers in the area.

Our VP of Engineering in New York City shared some photos of the mess with me, and I thought our customers would like to see what a large, lengthy, and unusual outage looks like.


Here, you can see a cross-section of what the cable looked like before the fire:


I took a closeup with the macro lens on my iPhone:


Those multicolored things are a protective sheath around a single fiber-otic strand roughly the width of a human hair. Each strand carries video, broadband, and phone services to a node, which, again, can serve 300-600 homes. The colored sheaths are slathered with a sort of insulating goo inside the cable shell to help protect the fiber from moisture. The whole enterprise looks a little like an alien cyborg’s reproductive organ, doesn’t it?

Here’s what the cable looked like after being subjected to an electrical fire:


And again, with an iPhone macro closeup:


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