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The Internet Networking

Multiple Fiber Cuts In San Francisco Area 368

georgewilliamherbert writes "Multiple news reports, mailing list posts, blogs, and tweets are pointing out two overnight acts of sabotage in the San Francisco Bay area, with long distance fiber network cables being cut in two locations in the early morning hours. The first cut, around 1:30 AM, affecting landline and cell phone service and 911 calls in the communities of Morgan Hill, Gilroy, and parts of Santa Cruz counties, was on an AT&T fiber alongside Monterey Highway near Blossom Hill Road, in San Jose. A second cut, around 3:30 AM, in San Carlos, affected Sprint fiber and has significantly disrupted services at the 200 Paul datacenter in southern San Francisco. Rumor says that this may be related to a AT&T communications workers contract having just expired — but no evidence has been published yet in the media, and this could be an intentional act of sabotage by someone unrelated to the company's workers."
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Multiple Fiber Cuts In San Francisco Area

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  • by CRCulver ( 715279 ) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Thursday April 09, 2009 @04:56PM (#27524219) Homepage
    The NSA has volunteered to help fix the cables.
  • Meh (Score:3, Funny)

    by edlinfan ( 1131341 ) on Thursday April 09, 2009 @04:56PM (#27524221)

    Someone should have told that guy not to cut and run!


  • Too mcuh open, ungaurded land. All it takes is a cut sopmewhere along hundreds of miles of cable to wreak havoc.
  • Scrappers (Score:5, Funny)

    by SnarfQuest ( 469614 ) on Thursday April 09, 2009 @04:58PM (#27524239)

    Could be someone trying to steal the fiber cables so they could sell the copper.

  • by deanston ( 1252868 ) on Thursday April 09, 2009 @04:58PM (#27524241)
    Infrastructure. Infrastructure. Infrastructure.
  • then I hope whoever did it gets nailed to the wall.

    Just because you're unhappy about something doesn't give you the right to go fuck with a bunch of other people.

    There's a term for that, it's called being a dickhead.

    In general, I hate people.

  • Comm Loss (Score:5, Funny)

    by Dr. Eggman ( 932300 ) on Thursday April 09, 2009 @05:04PM (#27524333)
    A loss of communication could only mean one thing: Invasion.
  • by Shivetya ( 243324 ) on Thursday April 09, 2009 @05:05PM (#27524347) Homepage Journal

    Say it ain't so!

    Talk about people who never left high school mentality behind. Before the local GM plant closed here in Atlanta my friend's mom worked there and he also took up that type of employment. My ex-girlfriend is a UPS driver but not in the union. All can basically come up with the same type of stories. The first rule I learned about buying cars, don't get anything made just before, during, or just after, an agreement is being negotiated. The second thing I learned is, if you have union buddies order the car and they will follow it through the plant for you... don't order the fanciest electronics but don't be surprised at what is under the seat or hidden somewhere.

    Sabotaging one's own employer is old hat. Favorite car tricks were bubble gum wads inside of panels. Dries and falls off after leaving the factory producing a nice rattle. Snappy a few clips helps too - but only inside of areas you can't see or get to easily. Getting drunk at work wasn't that difficult, if you got caught you might get in trouble, for about three days... and most of it goes away. As for my UPS friend. Finding dog shit on her car or under the handles is a monthly occurrence. Having her truck break down more than is statistically probable was a nuisance till a friend who knew the guys made it stop. Real damage to her car happened once till the police actually showed up to see it. Then it was down to harmless; if dog shit can count as harmless.

    So I put odds on it being someone inside, someone who knows the areas to hit, just what to hit to not cause an all points freak out, but enough to annoy his employer and possibly the guys who get stuck fixing it. Make the office boys work overtime and see how they like it! Yeah that will show them.

    Really it will blow your mind.

    Please don't think its a majority thing, the fact is most are very good and want a successful company and job, the twits just wreck it all because they are still in that phase of "I'll hold my breath if I don't get my way". The problem is the rest don't do anything about it for fear of being the next target.

  • Conficker (Score:3, Funny)

    by odin84gk ( 1162545 ) on Thursday April 09, 2009 @05:06PM (#27524377)
    We learned another important detail about Conficker. Not only does it destroy software, but it feeds on fiber!
  • The whole Internet is so fragile on the backend.

    Could one day we just learn to deal with the 1000ms latency times of a completely satellite-based network?

    (Yes, I know it's not flawless, but it would prevent a lot of things like this happening.)

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Kr1ll1n ( 579971 )
      I used to manage a network consisting of 300+ remote locations. All but 4 sites had broadband. The 4 without were structured as 3 with dial-up, and 1 with satellite. All 4 had VPN connectivity back to the corporate office. Connection to the satellite location was beyond flaky. The dial-up sites, however, where NEVER down. Satellite sucks, and is only a solution if you are so remote that it would cost the local telco more money to upgrade the area than you would bring in as a customer.
    • Depends - what do you plan to do with it? Web browsing? Streaming media? Voice or video chat? Networked games? For some of those a 1 second latency is only a minor inconvenience, but for others its a bit more serious than that.
      There's also the question of bandwidth costs which, I'm guessing, are more than a little bit higher for satellite-based networks.
    • Could one day we just learn to deal with the 1000ms latency times of a completely satellite-based network?

      A satellite net is suboptimal for day-to-day traffic, but it's just perfect for backup. I'm sure you'd be willing to deal with a couple seconds RTT when all the other links are broken.

      But redundancy doesn't pay -- it's more economic for an operator to have no redundancy, and blame any issues it has on the trade unions.

      (I'm actually amazed to hear that the emergency services went off too -- they don't even have backup for 911 service.)

    • Issues of latency aside:
      1) I don't know the numbers, but it seems like there would be a very definite limit (given the technology at any particular time) to how much data can be broadcast to an area over the air on a finite RF band. Given that satellites tend to cover large areas I doubt they would come close to satisfying demand.
      2) satellite links can be just down through interference (natural or manmade) or bad weather. Fiber actually has to be cut. In a lot of ways, going all satellite would make the
  • by Anonymous Coward

    .. a large cargo ship that got extremely lost and had to put down anchor.

  • ...but how do you repair a fiber optic cable that has been cut? What is the magic process for sticking it back together?
    • Re:Just curious... (Score:5, Informative)

      by bami ( 1376931 ) on Thursday April 09, 2009 @05:15PM (#27524521) Homepage

      ...but how do you repair a fiber optic cable that has been cut? What is the magic process for sticking it back together?

      splicing it together.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fusion_splicing [wikipedia.org]

      It's like getting two copper wires and just heating the copper to such a high temperature that they melt and re-form one strand.

    • I've never seen one operated but there are machines that cut the damaged ends, polish, and fuse a replacement length of fiber. The process is accurate to some small faction of a millimeter.

      For more info fusion splice [tecratools.com]
    • Depending on the materials used (glass or different types of plastic) they can be fused back together with heat or an appropriate optically clear resin. I'd imagine each time it has to be done it would add a bit of loss to the line.

      I don't work with fiber, just an educated guess.

    • Re:Just curious... (Score:5, Informative)

      by georgewilliamherbert ( 211790 ) on Thursday April 09, 2009 @05:19PM (#27524573)

      Cut the fiber carefully and cleanly back from the cut, which has ragged ends. Usually a few feet in each direction.

      Bring in a fiber patch section.

      Go in with fiber polishing gear, to every individual fiber on one side, polish end, test end, polish again until it's smooth enough. Identify what fiber ID that fiber is. patch it together with the patch cable. Repeat on the other side of the patch.

      Cross-test to ensure that you didn't cross any fibers in the reattachment - if so, pick one end as new ground truth, and repatch or logically reroute the other to match new physical reality.

      Once the whole bundle has been repolished, patched, and tested on both sides, you wrap the patch sections up with new covering (armored section, flexible covering, depends on the cable and location). Apply waterproofing goop.

      Put the manhole cover back on. Consider locking it down in place, this time...

      This is tedious work, requires careful attention to detail to properly polish the cut fiber ends and repatch them, and for large fiber bundles takes forever. You can start running data through a fiber once its two ends are repatched - you don't have to get the whole bundle back for that - but the whole process can take 24-48 hours depending on how many fibers are involved and how much space there is to work in the trench or down the manhole. In many cases, there's only enough space for 1 or maybe 2 people to be working at any given time, which makes the repairs take forever...

      • One place where I worked another agency was digging a hole with a boring machine, straight down in the middle of the road. They hit our fibre cable straight on. You know when you stick a fork into a plate of spaghetti and twist it.....

        That one took a while to fix.
      • Re:Just curious... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by kabocox ( 199019 ) on Thursday April 09, 2009 @06:03PM (#27525155)

        This is tedious work, requires careful attention to detail to properly polish the cut fiber ends and repatch them, and for large fiber bundles takes forever. You can start running data through a fiber once its two ends are repatched - you don't have to get the whole bundle back for that - but the whole process can take 24-48 hours depending on how many fibers are involved and how much space there is to work in the trench or down the manhole. In many cases, there's only enough space for 1 or maybe 2 people to be working at any given time, which makes the repairs take forever...

        How long would it take to repair if a few lines were cut, and the manhole cover was rigged so that the person opening would set off a pipe bomb or grenade? O.k. What kinda of union hassles/strikes would happen if that happened once, twice, or a half dozen times?

        That's something a more competent uni-bomber could do.

        Now assume that the fiber-bomber has planned 4/1/2011 to bring down an entire state or metro area. He basically plants a pipe bomb with a timer for his black out date behind or on the lines coming into as many sections as he can find. Let's declare this a domestic terrorist that has used his two week vacation to do this and has only used house hold products found at walmart for supplies. Let's say he is willing to spend $2K on gas and his various supplies. How much of the internet could our fictional fiber-bomber physically take down and how long would it take to repair it?

        That's the kinda of terrorist that gives government folks real nightmares. There is no way to stop that kinda of individual.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 09, 2009 @06:32PM (#27525455)

        I can tell from your UID and the description that you know the old school ways.

        I never want to see another polishing puck again.

        The new fusion splicers really do make it easy as now it is just strip the insulation back a quarter inch for the 62.5 (MM)or more probably 9 (SM), get a good cleave, and let the fusion splicer rip. Have seen a 24 strand cut fixed in about two hours, with about a quarter of the splices at 0.0dB loss (yes, I do mean ZERO) and the rest 0.05 to 0.1.

        I think Corning Cable Systems (Siecor) also has a ribbon cable splicer for instant pigtails up to 72 strand, its been a few years since this happened, so not really up on the latest.

    • by Chabo ( 880571 )

      Well, what I'd do is take the cut ends, terminate them both, and put a coupler in the middle. It won't be "good as new", but it'll do pretty well. If it's a critical piece of fiber, you could put a repeater in, and theoretically improve the performance.

      Re-terminating a fiber by hand takes less than 15 minutes, (I've only done it once, so it may even be well under 10 minutes for someone who does it all the time) and you'll have performance nearly as good as before.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Cramer ( 69040 )

        you'll have performance nearly as good as before

        No you wont. This is not 62.5/50micron multi-mode fiber. A coupler in a single-mode fiber causes a great deal of signal loss. I have never seen anyone terminate SM fiber anywhere but a termination point (i.e. at the equipment, repeater, or patch pannel inside a building.) "Just install a repeater" is laughable... those things are not free and require power that isn't found in most ditches.

        Today, we have very good equipment for making fusion splices -- to t

        • by Chabo ( 880571 )

          Fair enough; I've never terminated single-mode fiber. I only even have a tiny bit of experience as a user of single-mode; almost all of my fiber dealings have been multi-mode.

          I wasn't suggesting that a repeater would be a trivial solution though -- I did say "if it's a critical piece of fiber". I know they'd require power, but if you really needed a repeater, I would assume you'd go to the trouble of getting power to it, like having the power company allow you to tap into nearby powerlines, if they exist.


    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by pete-classic ( 75983 )

      Vitrus repairo. You never pay attention in Flitwick's class.


  • BOFH (Score:2, Informative)

    by Starteck81 ( 917280 )
    Sound like the work of the Bastard Operator From Hell.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 09, 2009 @05:12PM (#27524477)

    Get some pipe and welding equipment.

    Yours In Corruption,
    Ted Stevens

  • Story is a troll? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by PFAK ( 524350 ) * on Thursday April 09, 2009 @05:16PM (#27524529)

    Back in '05 when our local telecommunications company (TELUS) in British Columbia went on strike, some lines were cut and service for a couple thousand customers was lost. Of course, the first thing the company does is blame the union for sabotage.

    Turns out it was just some thieves cutting the lines for copper, but that didn't come out until a month after the labour dispute ended.

    Most likely the same thing happened here, thieves aren't exactly smart and most union employees would not risk the bad press something like this would generate.

  • Oh wait, by multiple they mean two...
  • I'd put money that they will call this an act of terrorism if they catch the parties responsible. These folks are going to get pinned to the wall. Especially since they have disrupted infrastructure and broken the 911 system.

    • by The Mighty Buzzard ( 878441 ) on Thursday April 09, 2009 @05:49PM (#27524977)
      Nah, this is San Francisco we're talking about after all. They'll probably trace it back to a couple college kids who heard smoking fiber gave you a killer high and immediately start up federally funded fiber-smoking bars.
  • by sillivalley ( 411349 ) <{ten.tsacmoc} {ta} {yellavillis}> on Thursday April 09, 2009 @05:23PM (#27524639)

    Activity Type Code Desc: PROGRESS COMMENTS
    Activity Type Code: PROG

    OTDR readings were taken by AT&T West and a cut was located 1600 ft from
    the San Jose, CA central office. AT&T West technicians are onsite
    working to isolate the exact location of the cut. There are 4 cables
    impacted. AT&T Mobility has 61 GSM and 45 co-located UMTS sites out of
    service off of Santa Clara Base Station Controllers 15 & 23, and Santa
    Clara Radio Network Controller 4. E911 has 52 Location Measuring Units
    down. The AT&T West Santa Cruz 11 central office (41,803 ATNs) is
    experiencing an SS7 isolation and the San Martin central office (11,904
    ATNs) lost it's umbilical and is isolated at this time. The Bailey
    remote site (4,973 ATNs) is also isolated. Scott's Valley has 3 out of 4
    SS7 links down. The Santa Cruz 01, Aptos, Scott's Valley, Felton,
    Boulder Creek, Ben Lomand, San Jose 11, San Jose 13, San Jose 21 central
    offices have trunks impacted such that all lines are busy and incoming
    calls are receiving trouble messages. The Santa Cruz County SO (178,040
    ATNs), Scott's Valley PD (12,007 ATNs) and the UC Santa Cruz PD (14,909
    ATNs) are all without ALI at this time. The Gilroy PD PSAP and the
    Morgan Hill PD and CDF have been rerouted with ALI/ANI. The Felton CDF
    has not been rerouted. There are 17 DSLAMS and 4 ATMS out of service
    impacting DSL service. There are 3 SMDI Links down impacting voicemail
    service. Verizon's Morgan Hill and Gilroy central offices are currently
    isolated. There have been 224,865 blocked calls.

  • by OMGcAPSLOCK ( 1507399 ) on Thursday April 09, 2009 @05:25PM (#27524663)
    At least this happened in a geographically fortuitous area when it comes to repairing the damage. I hear San Francisco has some of the most experienced pipe specialists in the country
  • Explains a lot (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Amazing Quantum Man ( 458715 ) on Thursday April 09, 2009 @05:25PM (#27524675) Homepage

    Can't get through to ucsc.edu today.

  • it's a Federal offense to tamper with regulated communications infrastructure, five years in the slammer and (pitifully inadequate) $5000 fine. they need to catch these weasels, and for once, put them away like the Wacko bin Loonies they are. a garden variety thug in Fargo took that town down for almost a week with a hacksaw a few years ago, and only sat for a year to think about it.

  • Why would an ATT employee make more work for themselves by cutting a fiber line? Besides, they're still in negotiations.
  • Since a backhoe cut 50,000 fiber lines twice in two days in North San Jose. The phone company had people watching the backhoe to make sure that didn't happen a third time.
  • by klapaucjusz ( 1167407 ) on Thursday April 09, 2009 @05:44PM (#27524917) Homepage

    It's not multiple cuts. It's just two cuts, done within two hours. The two sites are apparently within an hours' drive.

    So it's not some massive conspiracy, just a single person with a saw.

    Interestingly enough, while our best-beloved governments are posturing about how they need to enact even more security laws in order to fight terrorism, a single person with a chainsaw is all it takes to deprive a large area of telephone and Internet service, including emergency service.

  • tinfoil (Score:3, Interesting)

    by saiha ( 665337 ) on Thursday April 09, 2009 @06:43PM (#27525575)

    Mountain View (and some surrounding areas) have had a power outage, fiber cut and internet outage all within a 24 hour period. The spooks must be setting up some new equipment.

  • Vulnerabilities..... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by IHC Navistar ( 967161 ) on Thursday April 09, 2009 @06:49PM (#27525649)

    It's really *not* that hard to get to underground conduits and vaults where utility and telecommunications lines run. Anybody who can pry open a manhole or defeat a lock can gain access to these lines, as the type of utility (water, power, gas, telecom) is usually cast into the metal cover itself. Any deranged individual with a screwdriver can access these points and cause a major outage. Even someone knocking down a utility pole or above-ground junction box (both most commonly by accident) can cause a major outage.

    Telecom and power runs are particularly vulnerable, as they generally share the same pole, vault, or conduit, as it reduces the digging and pipe laying that needs to be done.

    When it comes to fiber and phone lines, the risks are pretty small, as cutting or damaging fiber is easy, and there are no high-voltages to worry about. Phone lines are the same, since the voltage is low enough that a wooden or plastic handled tool is all the protection that is needed from shocks.

    The downside of technology is that the more advanced it gets, the more vulnerable it is to failing. The only solution would be to armor fiber runs, but that would not stop a determined nutjob from success and would be extremely expensive.

    Might be worth it though in areas where this kind of anarchic behavior is present.

  • We need a plague (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Quiet_Desperation ( 858215 ) on Thursday April 09, 2009 @07:37PM (#27526029)
    There's just too many people with nothing to do.
  • by c0y ( 169660 ) on Thursday April 09, 2009 @08:38PM (#27526475) Homepage
  • Retribution? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tgrigsby ( 164308 ) on Thursday April 09, 2009 @09:34PM (#27526951) Homepage Journal

    Could it be retribution for the fact that AT&T got away with aiding the federal government with the warrantless wiretapping program that violated the Fourth Amendment and which the Obama administration seems determined to protect, continue, and maybe even extend?

    No, I'm not a conspiracy theorist. I'm a conspiracy factualist. There is a difference...

God doesn't play dice. -- Albert Einstein