Broadband Communities

MAY-JUN 2018

BROADBAND COMMUNITIES is the leading source of information on digital and broadband technologies for buildings and communities. Our editorial aims to accelerate the deployment of Fiber-To-The-Home and Fiber-To-The-Premises.

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TECHNOLOGY 4 6 | B R O A D B A N D C O M M U N I T I E S | w w w. b r o a d b a n d c o m m u n i t i e s . c o m | M AY / J U N E 2 0 1 8 Climate Change, Outages And Networks As the frequency and force of storms increase, network operators need to prepare for recovery of essential broadband service. Fiber is an important part of the equation. By Barry J. Walton / Corning Optical Communications A lthough I've been retired from a telephone company for a few years, old habits die hard, so I followed the January 2017 ice storm in New Brunswick, Canada, with great interest and concern. In my 37 years of experience in telecom, I have never seen that extent of damage from an ice storm. More than 600 broken utility poles had to be installed in the storm-affected area in the aftermath. e ice storm capped a 10-year period in which there has been a noticeable shift in the frequency of storms, their force and certainly their effects. I'm fortunate not to have lost a home or loved one in a natural disaster, so I recognize it is a luxury that I've spent a lot of time thinking about climate change, outages and networks. At my home in New Brunswick, we've weathered our share of storms, but it wasn't until five years ago that we finally put in a generator. We had reached a point where the cost of purchasing and installing a generator was lower than the costs associated with repeated, prolonged loss of power and connectivity. I am not arguing that everyone in the world, or even in New Brunswick, should get a generator. I tend to wear my business hat even when it comes to home investments, and I recognize that cost calculations vary with business strategies – especially on the loss side of the equation. In talks with industry contacts, I've learned that network operators are monitoring climate impacts on their businesses, assessing their emergency preparation strategies and in some cases making different decisions than they did 10 years ago. e business climate and the actual climate have changed since then, so the best decisions made in the last decade may not necessarily still serve their businesses well today. LESSONS FROM THE ELECTRIC UTILITIES In many ways, the operators' climate readiness work is similar to that of power companies. ere are lessons to be learned from these utility partners, which also manage infrastructure weakened and susceptible to damage. Here are a few I consider important: Make strategic infrastructure choices. ough power companies face updating their electric grids – an undertaking that comes with a price tag over the billion-dollar mark – network operators, fortunately, just have to avoid regrettable, reactive spending. If they have commercial generators in their central offices and a passive, no-power-required fiber optic infrastructure extending, in most cases, to about a mile from homes and businesses, only the "last mile" poses higher risk of network failure. In this last network segment, passive fiber optic cabling transitions to copper infrastructure that is susceptible to water intrusion and shorting out. Even when severed, fiber optic cable can often be repaired more quickly and cost-effectively

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