Northern California fires and telecomm outages

Hello fellow operators,

     The recent northern California fires wiped us out along with many other service providers and services including cellular, landline, e-911, cable and the like and I feel it's of operational concern the fragility of the telecommunications networks that link us together and the experiences had during this most recent event. I hope this topic is welcome and I apologize in advance for length.

Out of curiosity, why weren't there any existing emergency/last-resort microwave links already in place? It seems to be known that this cable is a single point of failure ahead of time. Were there previous plans to set up any microwave links that got put on the back burner or canceled?

Is there too much focus on fiber being the only option? IMO it's harder for a fire to destroy a microwave path vs. a fiber path, and some capacity is better than no capacity.


Hi Mike,

Thanks for sharing the story in what must be quite a difficult time.

You mention that Level3 also has presence in the county, including
their own independent route. Did they also suffer an outage during
this latest incident? If not, then why did their connection not allow
at least some customers to remain online?

Also, as another poster pointed out, would also be interesting to know
why the microwave link was not already established prior to this
incident if the single point of failure was so well known.
(Especially if your contract with AT&T already mentions that you are
supposedly allowed to have microwave at their CO.)


My reaction would have been to call local mayor, mayor in twon where you
try to setup the microwave base, and then if that fails FEMA and tell
them that you can restore Internet but AT&T is blocking you. They would
have the means to give a call to ATT and get them to stop blocking you.

This is an emergency and AT&T would look very very bad if this were to
become public.

I'd like to think that most independent operators avoided the ILEC at all costs due to them being difficult to work with, but every now and then you get one that loves to be with the ILEC.

The ATT building where we have collocation already however, would be quick and easy to add microwave, but they formally resist that idea and are of the position that we don't have the right to do so, despite it being in our interconnection agreement. They are digging in their heels and will have be addressed by the regulatory authority, which is not a quick process. The cost of pulling a new cable to another building that has sufficient line of sight, is prohibitive. Not impossible, but could add six figures to the cost, and therefore is not realistic.


We have attempted to engage exactly that for years - installing a microwave backup - but the only place it can be done, the top of the ATT central office where we are located - is resisted steadfastly by ATT despite it being a right enshrined in our contract, and there are no other realistic options that are also within our financial means to accomplish at this time.