Phones Out in AR/OK : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Local tv news in Little Rock, AR reported that "many" in Arkansas and Oklahoma were without phone service for several hours yesterday (Thursday). Southwestern Bell spokesfolks said it was due to a fiber optic line being accidentally severed by someone digging in Oklahoma. Report also pointed out 911 lines were not affected because they are on a different line. I know nothing about fiber-optics or telephone service but it seems like they would have some sort of auto re-routing in the event of a severed telephone line. Another interesting point was the sequence of news. They seemed to know it was a "severed fiber-optic" line before they could pinpoint where the severed line actually was. Maybe I'm Y2K paranoid, but this is curious.

-- Other Lisa (, December 18, 1998


I haven't been able to find much about it with online news. Only this blip which is the same story reported on last night's news.

-- Other Lisa (, December 18, 1998.

They know it is a broken line because there is a test for that. Sort of a query along the ends to see which line has quit. The rerouting works only if there is more than one line to an area - usually a line break is the only line to a rural neighborhood.

-- Paul Davis (, December 18, 1998.

I can also confirm what Paul has said here. It's fairly easy to determine that a break/fault has occurred in a line between points A and B, though determining PRECISELY where along the line can often take just a bit more time.

I wouldn't be too concerned here - breaks in communication lines due to construction work or other digging are very common and, during normal times, are typically fixed quickly.

However, in the event of any social unrest, my much bigger concern with communication lines such as these are deliberate sabatoge. One PO'd person with a simple shovel can do an enormous amount of damage fairly quickly. 1,000 PO'd peopled with shovels and axes can shut down the network permenantly.

There are thousands of miles of buried fiber optic (and other) cable around the country carry data and voice. It is an incredibly useful, super high bandwidth technology that is utterly dependent upon the good will of the people who live in and around the land that it crosses.

Our communications systems are not hardened for social unrest and there's no effective way to get them that way at this late date. Protecting such systems during a period of social unrest is an impossible task.

Preventing such social unrest is the only real option. Only if the government and industry are viewed as taking a highly effective leadership role will the confidence of the people in our system of government remain high enough to protect these systems.

Unfortunately, if things degrade to martial law and the government has to issue "shoot to kill" orders for such vandals, then we've surely lost both the battle and the war.


-- Arnie Rimmer (, December 18, 1998.

And, don't be surprised about 1 cable taking out agoodly portion of a couple states. As Arnie said, these things have a HUGE bandwidth, so LOTS of messages get routed on one. The re-route option through fiber is a LOT worse than the options used to be for microwave, as there are a lot fewer fiber links between A and B than there were micro.


-- Chuck a night driver (, December 18, 1998.

So it all comes back to setting up local trust and open communications -- of the verbal kind -- within a committed community.


-- Diane J. Squire (, December 18, 1998.

rerouting is often in the same cable so when it is cut it cuts the alternate route as well. The reason they do it is for cost effectiveness since 80% of the time the trouble is with the fiber optic within the cable.

-- More Dinty Moore (Not @this, December 18, 1998.

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