Fiber Cut Cripples Midtown Manhattan

Thousands of people in midtown Manhattan had to go without phone service today after what the police call a “construction incident” cut through fiber optic telecom cables yesterday evening.

The disruption happened around 4:30 p.m. Tuesday (April 30) when a construction team working on E.58th Street bored through about 17 Verizon underground cables, according to John Bonomo, a spokesperson for Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ). The damaged fiber cables carry capacity for about 15,000 individual phone lines. The police received reports of the incident at about 10 p.m. last night.

Repairs on the lines could last through the early part of the weekend, Bonomo says, although he optimistically points out that some service will return gradually as the repair work goes forward.

“This will take around-the-clock work,” Bonomo says. “Re-splicing cables is very labor intensive. You actually have to re-splice all the lines on each cable.”

A portion of 58th Street between Third and Lexington Avenues will be closed while Verizon and ConEdison Inc. complete the repair work on the site. Because such a large area has been affected, an NYPD task force and the New York City Office of Emergency Management are also present to help keep the situation under control.

Until the repairs have been completed, Verizon is supplying mobile telephones for emergency use, the police say.

According to Bonomo, phone cables get cut all the time, especially in the springtime when there are a lot of construction projects going on. However, he says, a disruption of this magnitude is rare. This is because there’s a hotline people are supposed to call if they are planning to dig a hole anywhere. “After security, knowing where the utilities are should be your greatest priority,” he says. “I can’t say whether [they made the call] in this case.”

So, how do you know if your phone line has been affected? Bonomo says it’s fairly simple. “If the telephone service is on the cables that were cut,” he says, people trying to use them "are just getting dead air.” [Ed. note: Well, duh!]

Light Reading made numerous calls this afternoon and was met with air in many places, along with busy-tones and error messages. Calls to at least 20 businesses in the affected area between E.57th Street and E.65th Street, and between Third and Fifth Avenues, could not be completed. A few places that still had phone service complained that they weren’t getting through to the places they were trying to call. Bloomingdales, which is located in the affected area, claims not to have noticed any disruptions on its lines today.

— Eugénie Larson, Reporter, Light Reading
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jshuler 12/4/2012 | 10:29:29 PM
re: Fiber Cut Cripples Midtown Manhattan Chalk one up for those wierdos who keep insisting that fiber rings are a good way to build metro networks.
nobollox 12/4/2012 | 10:29:22 PM
re: Fiber Cut Cripples Midtown Manhattan I don't really understand how there is no resiliency in a situation like this. A bundle of fibers that big in the Metro I thought were rings, not point to point. Is this mesh?

Unprotectedly yours,
Horkus 12/4/2012 | 10:29:21 PM
re: Fiber Cut Cripples Midtown Manhattan I thought RBOCs or ILECs for that matter dont build rings. New CLECs entering a city will do it that way. but an RBOC has a CO every couple of blocks. especially in a city like NY. so it's PTP from the closest CO to the customer.
In order to have redundancy they have to lay fiber to the same destination at no extra cost to the customer. That is something RBOC's are not ready to do. But that is why i think they are looking at wireless alternatives for such a situation.
Mad Max 12/4/2012 | 10:29:17 PM
re: Fiber Cut Cripples Midtown Manhattan Anybody who's done business in NYC knows all to well the difficulties they face. The obscene lack of ducts, the high cost of trenching, extortion from the unions and the obscene mish-mash of legacy routing make it a nightmare. In a 1 Km span it's common to have 30 or more (mechanical) splices and loose up to 10 dB. Many of the rings are collapsed. Hell... there are numerous manholes in NY where, during a union strike, they need to park a truck on top and post cops because all traffic goes through it. The CLEC boom was so successful in NY simply because they were offering redundancy, dual entrance and dual wire center for survivability. The fact that there are not more outages is a testament to the reliability of SONET ringsGǪ and even at that, NY Tel, NYNEX and now Verizon pay millions a month in PUC service penalties.

edgecore 12/4/2012 | 10:29:08 PM
re: Fiber Cut Cripples Midtown Manhattan
Definition please?


edgecore 12/4/2012 | 10:29:06 PM
re: Fiber Cut Cripples Midtown Manhattan THX
Big Bear 12/4/2012 | 10:29:06 PM
re: Fiber Cut Cripples Midtown Manhattan Public Utilities Commission
melao 12/4/2012 | 10:28:49 PM
re: Fiber Cut Cripples Midtown Manhattan How the carriers in US use extra traffic in their rings ?
I work on a carrier in Brazil and they use it a lot! So a fiber switch can make them to loos traffic on a 4 fiber ring. I really find that annoying but they use it a lot.

btw, PUC is the name of the university that i studied. http://www.puc-rio.br :)

gea 12/4/2012 | 10:28:47 PM
re: Fiber Cut Cripples Midtown Manhattan Actually,I've spoke to many carriers who do this, and although they only do it when they have to, it's better than no ring at all they say. Apparently, in many cases a cut will not take out both sides...if you've ever seen the larger fiber sheeths you'll know why: that backhoe operator will sometimes see or "feel" the cable before cutting through all the way. SO there's a chance one of the ing's fiber might survive...
jeffpaz 12/4/2012 | 10:28:47 PM
re: Fiber Cut Cripples Midtown Manhattan Many of the carriers put rings on separate fibers, but those fibers are in the same bundle. A cut takes out both sides.

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