Fiber cut in SF area

Sean Donelan sean at
Sat Apr 11 18:11:44 CDT 2009

On Sat, 11 Apr 2009, Roger Marquis wrote:
> The real problem is route redundancy.  This is what the original contract
> from DARPA to BBM, to create the Internet, was about!  "The net" was
> created to enable communications bttn point A and point B in this exact
> scenario.

Uh, not exactly.  There was diversity in this case, but there was also 
N+1 breaks.  Outside of a few counties in the Bay Area, the rest of the 
country's telecommunication system was unaffected.  So in that sense the 
system worked as designed.

Read the original DARPA papers, they were not about making sure grandma 
could still make a phone call.

> For a good "man in the street" perspective of how the outage effected
> things like a pharmacy's ability to fill subscriptions and a university
> computer's ability to boot check out a couple of shows broadcast on KUSP
> (Santa Cruz Public Radio) this morning:

Why didn't the "man in the street" pharmacy have its own backup plans?

Why didn't the pharmacy also have a COMCAST or RCN broadband connection 
for alternative Internet access besides AT&T or Verizon, a Citizens Band 
radio channel 9 for alternative emergency communications besides 9-1-1,
a satellite phone for alternative communications besides local cell 
phones, and a Hughes VSAT dish for yet even more diversity?  Why was the 
pharmacy relying on a single provider?  Or do it the old-fashion way 
before computers and telecommunications; keep a backup paper file of 
their records so they could continue to fill prescriptions?

Why didn't the pharmacy have more self-diversity? Probably the usual 
reason, more diversity costs more.  That may be the reason why hospitals 
have more diversity than neighborhood pharmacies; and emergency rooms 
have other ways to get medicine.  Maintaining diversity and backups is 
probably also part of the reason why filling a prescription at a hospital 
is much more expensive than filling a prescription at your neighborhood 

Likewise, why didn't grandma have her own pharmacy backup plan. Don't wait 
until the last minute to refill a critical presciption, have backup copies 
of prescriptions with her doctor, have an account with an alternative 
pharmacist in case her primary pharmacist isn't reachable, etc.

Readiness works better if everyone does their part, including grandma.

Next time it won't be AT&T, it will be Cox or Comcast or Qwest or Level 3 
or Global Crossing or .... or .... or .... .  It won't be vandalism, it 
will be an earthquake, backhoe, gas main explosion, operator error, ....

Everything fails sometimes.  What's your plan?

personal opinion only

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