Over the past few months, there have been some significant network disruptions. Recently, Verizon’s landline and wireless voice customers, as well as Frontier and Windstream customers in Oneida, New York, lost their service for nearly 24 hours when an underground fiber cable was damaged. Verizon spokesman Richard Young said the company gets reports of intentionally severed cables only about five times a year. But there was a spike with 84 cases of vandalism from New York to Virginia during the strike this past spring.
In Austin, Texas, thousands of AT&T customers lost their cellular and internet service when a fiber-optic line was severed. Cox Communications’ customers in four Florida counties lost their internet and cable services for nearly four hours during the business day, after fiber cables in two regions were cut.
When selecting a provider, it is prudent to gather information regarding the control mechanisms, procedures and precautions that providers use to ensure service reliability. In addition, some businesses may be able to negotiate prioritization of service restoration efforts. Finally, contracts should have some provisions for penalties. This part of the contract review should be scrutinized to ensure it is enforceable. In some cases, instead of a monetary penalty, a requirement for face-to-face meetings with senior executives from the provider may be more effective.
Finding a reliable back-up is not easy. As illustrated with Verizon’s cut, multiple providers may rely on the same fiber. Mobile services and internet services may not provide service when a line is down because cell towers and internet services often connect calls using the same fiber that land lines use. In addition, widespread network disruptions from flooding and other natural disasters don’t offer easy workarounds.
These incidents and the recent flooding in New Orleans serve as important reminders of the need for enterprises to develop back up plans for network disruptions. The first step is to identify business units where the network provides services which are mission critical. For those sites, leaders that serve IT, telecom and sourcing need to work together in identifying suppliers that can provide redundant services.
In cases where services will be down, communication is critical. Most enterprises have a back-up plan for how the business will deal with a network disruption, but it may not be up-to-date. It is best to educate employees about the plan before there is a network disruption. Most providers are able to make broad claims about the reliability of their network, but a small outage can create enormous pain and problems for a business.Tags: telecom