NH - Phone Failure Pinned on Furry Critters

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May 3, 2000

Title: Phone Failure Pinned on Furry Critters By DAVID BROOKS, Telegraph Staff

The failure that cut telephone service into and out of Hollis and Wilton for 12 hours Monday wasnt due to what insurance companies call "an act of God"  more like an act of rodents.

"Squirrels chewed into the fiber optic cable," said Bell Atlantic spokesman Erle Pierce. "It was a family of them. A mother, father and three babies, or at least thats what it looked like."

The squirrels had taken up residence in what is known as a "slack box," a large plastic or metal box hanging between two utility poles that holds excess cable, in case more is needed for maintenance reasons.

One of them apparently chewed through the cables plastic lining, either to nibble on the insulation or to make more room, and damaged the hair-thin fiber optic strands inside.

"This sort of thing happens two or three times a year (in New Hampshire)," said Pierce. "A lot of our equipment is outside, and there are animals there. ... We do our best, but you cant keep everything out. Sometimes well have a snake that crawls into a (terminal) and gets fried."

The damage occurred about 5:30 p.m. Monday. The problem was found around 1 a.m. Tuesday and fixed by 6 a.m.

The squirrels cut the main trunk line carrying traffic between Bell Atlantics central office in Nashua and the independent Hollis and Wilton Telephone Co. This severed the century-old companys link to the rest of the telephone network, reducing it to "standalone" status: Customers could not call outside the two towns, covering about 7,000 lines, nor could neighboring towns call in to them.

Pierce said that the only other customers affected were a few private data lines, rented by businesses to carry Internet traffic and other high-bandwidth uses that dont work over traditional phone lines.

"Our rerouting worked well here," he said, listing off acronyms for various sizes of fiber cables that were affected. "There were two OC48s, an OC12 and an OC3  thats a huge amount of bandwidth that was lost. But we were able to route most traffic around the problem, so that customers didnt even notice."

Fiber optic cables are long, thin glass strands that carry signals on light, rather than on electricity. Fiber optic cables can carry thousands, or even tens of thousands, times as many calls as can copper wires.

David Brooks can be reached by calling 249-3336 or by e-mail at brooksd@telegraph-nh.com. http://www.nashuatelegraph.com/Daily_Sections/News/Archives/2000/may/stories/0503w-phonefailure.htm


-- (Dee360Degree@aol.com), May 03, 2000


The squirrel king and his minions no doubt.

-- spider (spider0@usa.net), May 03, 2000.

Yep, they are busy little buggers.

-- (Dee360Degree@aol.com), May 03, 2000.

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