Outside plant protection, fiber cuts, interwebz down oh noes!

Ravi Pina ravi at cow.org
Thu Apr 9 19:41:45 CDT 2009

On Thu, Apr 09, 2009 at 03:04:16PM -0700, Charles Wyble wrote:
> Seriously though I want to start some discussion around outside plant 
> protection. This isn't the middle of the ocean or desert after all.
> There were multiple fiber cuts in a major metropolitan area, resulting 
> in the loss of critical infrastructure necessary to many peoples daily 
> lives (though twitter stayed up so it's all good). :) It would appear 
> that this was a deliberate act by one or more individuals, who seemed to 
> have a very good idea of where to strike which resulted in a low cost, 
> low effort attack that yielded significant results.
> So allow me to think out loud for a minute....
> 1) Why wasn't the fiber protected by some sort of hardened/locked 
> conduit? Is this possible? Does it add extensive cost or hamper normal 
> operation?
> 2) Why didn't an alarm go off that someone had entered the area? It was 
> after business hours, presumably not in response to a trouble ticket, 
> and as such a highly suspicious action. Does it make sense for these 
> access portals to have some sort of alarm? I mean there is fiber running 
> through and as such it could carry the signaling. Would this be a 
> massive cost addition during construction?
> 3) From what I understand it's not trivial to raise a manhole cover. 
> Most likely can't be done by one person. Can they be locked? Or were the 
> carriers simply relying on obscurity/barrier to entry?

I think we'd only be speculating with no actual data surrounding the
vaults the bundles traversed.  That said one would *hope* vault access
is not trivial and there are mechanisms in place to alert of
unauthorized, unlawful entry.  I would also love it if bacon was
healthy for me and didn't make my cholesterol 280.

The bay area is also particularly unique in the sense that there aren't
many available paths to run fiber.  There are mountains on one side and
the bay on the other.  Your available diverse paths are "the left and
right side of the tracks," and as a coworker pointed out the left has
been full since 1996.


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