So this morning, I was wondering why my cellphone was acting a little funny…
It turns out that somebody got into a fiber optic cable vault and cut four very important fiber lines that contain a lion’s share of the network connectivity over the bay area. It was an AT&T piece of fiber, but it also carried Verizon Wireless and Sprint traffic.
This is dumb. Really dumb. The whole benefit of packet-switched data and digital networks and everything else we’ve built since the days of Alexander Graham Bell is so that you don’t have a single set of wires to a single switching station that can be taken out or go offline.
Clearly nobody ever sits down and does a good deep-drive starting from the big picture and ending up with where the circuits end. There are tons of inexpensive technological ways to have avoided this, at the very least in terms of maintaining 911 service. After all, it’s not like killing the president. Killing the president is a bad thing because there’s exactly one. Fiber optic cable you can pick up and lay en masse. Directional microwave antennas, etc. are the same way. We can defend against this by running a second set of cables geographically separated.
Given my experience in network-related stuff since before I was even working, this is not a surprise. Not at all.
However, clearly, if this has happened now, you can bet the next synchronized terror attack will involve snipping cables as a prelude to the real thing. Can’t fit the worms back in the can, that’s for sure.