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Local Telco Meltdown… Time to reconsider the Grid Design July 21, 2008

Posted by Glenn Irvine in Blog, Commentary, Media.
Tags: , , , , , , ,

More than a million East Coast Australians were without Telco services (Mobile, Internet, Land Line, ATM, ETFPOS) for half a day late last week because of a simple cable cutting beside a residential road. All the finger pointing that is now going on in the washup does nothing to address the fact that a single cable being cut can affect so many users.

When the early Internet was designed by DARPA, one of it’s initial design considerations was survivability of communications (in those days they were considering a city in the network being taken out by nuclear force). It would seem that given the disruption to Internet services on as large a scale as the telephony, that some of these design principles are no longer in place.

When you consider that Back to base Alarm systems, some hospital equipment and even sewerage valves are managed by telephony based systems, the problem goes way beyond emergency issues such as the Emergency Phone Number system (000 in Australia) being out of action.

In our current era of uncertainty, with acts of terrorism on everyone’s minds, it is time we look at the survivability of our Telco Grid again. The simple act of cutting a roadside cable having such a devastating effect is not acceptable. Our civilisation has slowly grown to a level of strong dependance on this network and it needs to be considered critical infrastructure.

The real concern is that our leaders in government were none the wiser about cause or impact when this incident occurred. No contingency or disaster plans in place.


Glenn Irvine



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