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Google Buildout Unplugs College Radio

We've all heard about backhoes taking out fiber-optic networks. This time, the fiber-optic gods got their revenge and cut some copper lines.

Contractors working on the Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) fiber-to-the-home deployment at Stanford University inadvertently took college radio station KZSU-FM off the air for a few hours last Wednesday, severing some of the copper pairs that link the on-campus studio to the transmitter up in the hills. No transmitter, no radio.

The cable's location was apparently unmarked, so Google's contractor can't really be blamed for the incident. (Likewise, we're not trying to say Google intentionally took out a radio station.)

What actually got hit was a conduit holding cables not just for KZSU, but for other Stanford-related uses, too. The handful of fiber-optic lines in the conduit survived, as did dozens of copper pairs. But as luck would have it, the copper lines that got severed included those that carry KZSU's programming signal.

KZSU knew the transmitter had stopped working but initially didn't know why. When it started looking like cable damage was to blame, KZSU Chief Engineer Mark Lawrence resorted to the classic high-tech approach of getting in his car and driving around, following the approximate route of the cable. "Once I locate a big yellow machine, I know the cable fault will be within 10 meters of that spot. Never fails," he writes in an email to Light Reading.

Lawrence managed to fix things up using the surviving copper pairs. In the meantime, KZSU continued broadcasting on its Web feed.

— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading

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