Ever since fiber cables have been applied to the communication network, the fiber footprints cover all over the world. Fiber cables are essential components of nearly all modern computer and communications systems. They’re like the veins of the global communication systems, buried and aerial paths, even under the ocean. Fiber cables are all around us and incessantly supply the information and data to us. However, there is an annoying thing that once the fiber cables were damaged or cut, it may cause a big loss because of the network disruption. So, who is the offender to destroy fiber cables? This paper will tell you the truth, but unfortunately, there may be more than one.
Construction companies and excavators seem like the natural enemy of buried cables. Construction comes in many forms. Backhoes, post-hole augers and even hand shovels can all bring network traffic to a halt by severing your fiber optic cable. You would think that they would have called someone and tried to make sure they weren’t cutting into something dangerous like gas or oil. But ironically, they never do that before they dig.
The biggest offender to destroy fiber cables are nature and extreme weather conditions. Hurricanes, mud slides, flood and ice storms etc. natural disaster and extreme weather are nightmare not only to our personal life and property, but also the fiber cables. We can make snowman and go skating in colder climates. What a pleasant thing! However, at this time, the frontline cable engineer must to do an emergency network repair under such harsh conditions in order to avoid additional damage and downtime. Because water that enters a splice enclosure can freeze, crushing the fiber strands and leaving you with a costly network outage. Additionally, lightning is also a factor to destroy fiber cables. When lightning strikes the ground, it will search for the best conductor available, even if it’s underground. If that happens to be the armor or trace-wire of your fiber cable, then damage to the cable sheath and even the fiber itself is very likely.
Here humans refers to the people who steal the fiber. They cut the fiber thinking it has value and can be sold in pieces. The most classical event is that a 75 year-old woman in Georgia (country in Asia) was digging with her spade, looking for copper, which she wanted to sell for scrap, when she accidentally cut the fiber optic cable that provided internet to 90% of Armenia. It is ridiculous. It is fiber but not copper! In addition, people vandalize the fiber cable in other ways, e.g. for gun practice. This especailly happens in the rough parts of town which makes the cable repair work become dangerous. Furthermore, land disputes which causes artificial malicious damage of fiber is also a fiber damage reason.
We can try to reason with humans and publicize our buried fiber cable, but there is nothing we can do about the cable damage causing by animals. Squirrel, a furry little nut eater, seems to be deeply fond of fiber cable sheathing besides nuts. We even doubt that the cable manufacturers of using peanut oil in the sheathing. Since they have a life-long drive to gnaw, squirrel is often responsible for extensive damage to fiber optic cable. Even metal armored cable can get cut in two by this furry critter. In addition, undersea cables aren’t exempt from cuts. Because there is another animal under ocean like to bite cables. It is shark. Why shark would like to eat fiber cables? Effect by magnetic fields is one of the explaining at present. We have no idea how we can combat these wayward rodents. Now, only thing we can do is always looking for ways to improve.
This is an unimaginable thing why vehicle will damage the fiber cable. Vehicle, here mainly refers to big trucks, or maybe small airplane. From people running into telephone poles to truckers underestimating the height of their rigs – it’s all part of the problem. For example, a cable damage accident causing by a truck happened in Pennsylvania. A trucker got lost and accidently turned down a residential street. His rig got tangled up in a mess of overhead phone cables. But that didn’t stop him! He kept pushing forward until his rig was tied up like a Christmas present. He was dragging a 20 foot section of broken telephone pole down the street before he stopped to see what was impeding his progress. To address this situation, we can forbid trucks from entering the residential street or city by limiting the height of the vehicles. However, accident always happens with all kinds of tricks, e.g. a small airplane will destroy the fiber cables. This happened in California. A small airplane was attempting to land at the Burbank International Airport and overshot the runway and crashed in a residential area. It clipped the poles that the aerial fiber was attached to, causing everything to come down. Though it is just a small probability event, it really refresh the record of fiber cut causing by vehicle.
During all of these bizarre and annoying causes of fiber damage, no matter artificial destruction, natural disasters, animals, or even impossible odds, we may never know in advance which will happen, and even can’t blame it. Only thing we can do is to take a good protection for our fiber cables. Waterproof fiber cables, armored fiber cables and the other outdoor cables which are designed to protect fibers in a harsh application environment are widely used in this field. Of course, more better protection methods will be developed in the future. In fact, there are some force majeure factors which cause signal loss and cut the network. Repairs and recovery service are necessary. There is a group of people who are willing to get down into the trenches in the first time, make the necessary repairs and recovery service every time when network is down. They are great and worthy of respect.
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