Cable Break Takes Out Internet Service in Parts of Alaska

April 12, 2016

By Steve Anderson - Contributing Writer

The loss of an Internet connection, even for a few minutes, can be tough to bear. Leave aside the loss of entertainment, it's also the loss to a major communications port and potentially even lost time at work. A recent report from the Alaska Dispatch News notes how construction caused a cable break that ended up meaning something similar for Alaskan Internet users April 7, showing us all the value of backup systems.

The outage affected GCI (News - Alert) customers in “several communities around the state,” and the overall impact varied based on the service received. The outage lasted several hours, and began at 11:30 that morning with some services starting to return by 5:30 p.m. The cause of the problem was traced back to construction in Anchorage, where four fiber optic cables had been damaged. The incident meant that “hundreds of strands” within the cable had been cut, and though temporary cables were being installed, a full fix was likely to take some time. Workers had been brought in from the Matanuska-Susitna (Mat-Su) Valley to provide help, which is about 35 miles away from Anchorage. One of the workers involved noted that she had “...never seen anything this big before,” as the cable in question was “...coming out of one of their main hubs.”

There was no way to even guess at costs of repair, reports noted, and the outage ran statewide, encompassing communities like Anchorage, Juneau, Kenai and Wasilla, among others. GCI kept regular updates going on its Facebook (News - Alert) page, and noted that credits would “...be issued on a case-by-case basis”, with users needing to call customer service to start noting each case.

Though there's little that one can do to maintain backups for Internet access, short of maintaining a 4G signal or the like, this incident underscores the importance of having backups in general. Tools like power backup systems allow users to safely save work and shut down a system in the event of a power outage, not just simply lose the system—and the work therein—for any length of time.

If one errant construction project could shut down Internet access for several hours, we can also assume that a similar project could kill electrical power or phone service as well. The importance of backup systems becomes clear here, whether it's backup power, phone or Internet access. Some backup systems are more feasible than others, of course, but backups should always be considered as such are available.

Having that backup power supply on hand can mean the difference between a morning's work lost and a small interruption, so setting aside some budget specifically for backups and disaster recovery can be a huge help. 

Edited by Rory J. Thompson

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