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DC fiber cut: field report
From: Stephen Balbach <stephen () clark net>
Date: Thu, 17 Jul 1997 18:35:36 -0400 (EDT)


After a hot tip on the location of the fiber cut, and with Map Quest in 
hand, we went to search out the location of todays 500+ DS3 DC fiber cut.

We were looking for a bunch of white vans and pick-ups with guys in hard 
hats and orange vests along the train tracks in Northern Laurel, MD - our 
search was fruitfull and within 10 minutes of locating the tracks we 
had found the scene of the cut. It is located off the Baltimore 
Washington Parkway at the Route 32 exit about 1/2 mile from the NSA 
(hmm) along CWX railroad tracks.

About 7 vehicles with WorldCom and Wiltel logo's and about 15 people 
strung out along a dusty portion of the tracks. In the distance a large 
back hoe and a construction company van, not a good sign. A piece of 
black cable about the width of a quarter lay strung along the tracks and 
one piece could be seen sticking out of the dirt, the white innards 
splayed out. We had found the cut.

There was a gentleman with a white hard hat that said "WorldCom" sitting 
near a pit with another person in hard-hat hunched over a portable 
work-bench working on a cable. We asked what happened and no one knew, 
but obviously from the back-hoe and railroad construction in the area, 
not much explanation was needed. What time did it happen? "About 9am" 
Who's cable was it? "WorldCom - we lease fiber to all the other 
carriers".

I mentioned we had heard about it on the Internet and everyone seemed to 
perk up. Yes, they were famous. The scale of the cut was beyond anyones 
guess. It was a single cable laid in the dirt carrying 144 strands of 
fiber. How many DS-3's this was could be a lot more then 500 DS3's.

As we left it struck me that this cut was not if, but when. And more cuts 
like it. There was no protection for the cable, no markers of the cable 
location. 

I was also left with the impression that once right-aways are cleared, 
laying cable seems like a relativly cheap operation considering the cost 
of bandwidth over it's life-time. I wonder if there's a FAQ on becoming a 
cable maven..

--stb

p.s. no estimate on what it will be up.



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