Fiber cut in SF area

Peter Beckman beckman at
Mon Apr 13 14:53:20 CDT 2009

On Mon, 13 Apr 2009, chris.ranch at wrote:

> Peter Beckman [mailto:beckman at] wrote:
>> Sent: Monday, April 13, 2009 11:19 AM
>> To: Dylan Ebner
>> Cc: nanog at
>> Subject: RE: Fiber cut in SF area
>> On Mon, 13 Apr 2009, Dylan Ebner wrote:
>>> It will be easier to get more divergence than secure all the
>>> manholes in the country.
>> I still think skipping the securing of manholes and access
>> points in favor of active monitoring with offsite access is a
>> better solution.
> The only thing missing from your plan was a cost analysis.  Cost of each,
> plus operational costs, * however many of each type.  How much would that
> be?

  So, let's see.  I'm pulling numbers out of my butt here, but basing it on
  non-quantity-discounted hardware available off the shelf.

  $500,000 to get it built with off-the-shelf components, tested in hostile
  tunnel environments and functioning.

  Then $350 per device, which would cover 1000 feet of tunnel, or about
  $2000 per mile for the devices.  I'm not sure how things are powered in
  the tunnels, so power may need to be run, or the system could run off
  sealed-gel batteries (easily replaced and cheap, powers device for a
  year), system can be extremely low power.  Add a communication device
  ($1000) every mile or two (the devices communicate between themselves back
  to the nearest communications device).

  Total cost, assuming 3 year life span of the device, is about $3000 per
  mile for equipment, or $1000 per year for equipment, plus $500 per year
  per mile for maintenance (batteries, service contracts, etc).  Assumes
  your existing cost of tunnel maintenance can also either replace devices
  or batteries or both.

  Add a speedy roomba like RC device in the tunnel with an HD cam and a 10
  or 20 mile range between charging stations that can move to the location
  where an anomaly was detected, and save some money on the per-device cost.
  It could run on an overhead monorail, or just wheels, depending on the
  tunnel configuration and moisture content.

  Add yet another system -- an alarm of sorts -- that goes off upon any
  anomaly being detected, and goes off after 5 minutes of no detection, to
  thwart teenagers and people who don't know how sophisticated the
  monitoring system really is.  Put the alarm half way between access
  points, so it is difficult to get to and disable.

  Network it all, so that it can be controlled and updated from a certain
  set of IPs, make sure all changes are authenticated using PKI or
  certificates, and now you've made it harder to hack.  Bonus points -- get
  a communication device that posts updates via SSL to multiple
  pre-programmed or random Confickr-type domains to make sure the system
  continues to be able to communicate in the event of a large outage.

> Then amortize that out to our bills.  Extra credit: would you pay for it?

  Assuming bills in the hundreds of thousands of dollars per month, maybe to
  the millions of dollars, and then figure out what an outage costs you
  according to the SLAs.

  Then figure out how much a breach and subsequent fiber cut costs you in
  SLA payouts or credits, multiply by 25%, and that's your budget.  If the
  proposed system is less, why wouldn't you do it?

  The idea is inspired by the way Google does their datacenters -- use
  cheap, off-the-shelf hardware, network it together in smart ways, make it
  energy efficient, ... profit!

  Anyone want to invest?  Maybe I should start the business.

Peter Beckman                                                  Internet Guy
beckman at                       

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