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The Cause Of Many Outages: Squirrels

5 Unusual Ways Nature Causes Outages and How to Mitigate Risk

Nature is a fickle beast. Telecommunications and cable companies have long sought a perfect record for service delivery. The reality, however, is that nature tends to work against human endeavors. Outages are a fact of life in telecommunications, which is why an entire industry has arisen around disaster recovery services for phones and internet. In a recent article by Level 3 Communications, SVP of Operations Fred Lawler discussed the top causes of service outages. Among them, there were several unusual surprises.

1. Squirrels

One of the leading causes of outages comes from an unexpected force of nature: squirrel teeth. No one knows for sure why squirrels are drawn to telecom and internet fiber. Their chewing habits account for nearly one quarter of service interruptions caused by a fiber cut. In the past few years, major carriers have had to spend tremendous resources to protect their networks from squirrel chews by installing cable guards. But even those are not enough to stop the squirrels entirely.

2. Floods and mud slides

Among natural disasters, the most trying for telecom companies are floods and mud slides. Writes Fred Lawler, “One incident that sticks out in my mind was during mud slides in Utah a few years back.  We were trying to repair a cable across a ravine that was literally over a quarter of a mile wide and filled with raging water.  Every piece of equipment and truck we had was stuck in mud up to the axels.” Indeed, mud slides and floods are particularly difficult because they prevent crews from quickly repairing damage done to fiber.

3. Ice Storms

Ice storms do not directly pose a threat to telephone lines. What they can cause, however, is tree limbs to become brittle. With a slight gust of wind, the brittle branches break and smash through fiber lines. The ice also makes reaching and repairing the damage a dangerous affair.

4. Hurricanes

The damage a hurricane can inflict is fairly obvious. But this damage is repairable. What makes hurricanes especially tricky is all the wildlife they displace. Crews working to repair service after a hurricane have encountered all manner of creatures lurking near downed telephone wires, including pythons, alligators, and even sharks.

5. Vengeful Vandals

Nature causes all manner of problems for service providers companies, but the one cause that never ceases to top the list is humanity. The most common cause of accidental fiber cuts is construction. But sometimes landowners do their fair share of damage. One such landowner on the border between Georgia and Florida decided to take action on his grievances against telecom companies by digging up and cutting through all their wire. He is not alone, either. Vandalism is a leading cause of fiber cuts across the country.

Mitigate the Risk of Outages

With all these disaster scenarios in mind, it is important to note that there are ways to mitigate the risk of an outage to maintain as close to 100% up-time as possible. MIX Networks offers a 4G failover system to restore service when an outage has occurred.

MIX 4G Failover solves the problem of lost Internet connectivity – automatically – with a quick and easy deployable, low-cost solution. Now your business can maximize their Internet availability by bridging the inevitable gap with 3G/4G mobile broadband failover.

Our solution combines a hardware appliance with wireless mobile broadband from the most reliable cellular provider in your area.  Our MIX Failover solution automatically detects access issues with your regular internet connection and instantly fails over to 4G/3G network connectivity to avoid prolonged service interruptions.

MIX 4G Failover automatically provides the Internet access you need to continue conducting business in the event that your regular Internet connection fails.

  • High Availability – your offices and retail locations can rely on high availability that used to be limited to larger operations
  • Reliability – no longer is the cost for connectivity instant failover out of reach for Small to Medium Businesses 
  • Cost Effective – avoid downtime without the worry of breaking your budget by taking advantage of the benefits of MIX 4G Failover

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