Damaged fiber disrupts connectivity

Bradley’s campus suffered significant Internet outages that put a halt on checking email, Sakai and other Web services Monday.

Executive Director of Computing Services Sandra Bury said the cause of the outage was a fiber cut between Bloomington and Urbana.

“It was an AT&T fiber that was cut, but we don’t know how it happened,” Bury said. “It was probably from construction.”

The outage began around late Monday morning and lagged until 7:30 p.m.

Bury sent a campus-wide email around 12:30 p.m. on behalf of Bradley Information Resources and Technology (IRT) explaining the reduced bandwidth. The email stated that students should avoid using the Internet, or use their cellular providers’ broadband on smartphones in the meantime.

An IRT email sent later in the evening explained that the fiber had been spliced. Besides some intermittent outages, the bandwidth was back to full connectivity by Tuesday morning.

“The problem was fixed that evening, the splicing was checked and proven to be working,” Bury said. “Our network staff checked to see how much bandwidth we had.”

Senior and Technology Helpdesk Consultant Will Parkhurst said every internet service provider (ISP) has large bundles of cables that run from one part of the country to another.

“These bundled fiber optic cables form what is called the ‘backbone’ of the internet,” he said. “Without them our data would never be able to be connected … Unfortunately, two of our providers used the same backbone. This meant that when the line was cut by accident, our internet was rather badly affected. To fix an issue like this, it [costs] in the low to mid-six figures.”

Bury said the university faced wide-spread outages, but not total outages that would prevent any kind of Internet access.

Bradley wasn’t the only area affected by the damaged fiber. University of Illinois College of Medicine in Peoria, Illinois State University and Cecfu Bank were among those affected by significant outages.

“Everybody who was affected was out of service by the same amount,” Bury said. “All the customers were affected for the same amount of time.”

Parkhurst said that wired machines were also slower due to the fiber cut.

“This impact was felt over both wireless and wired,” he said. “The wireless is just a natural extension of the wired network and so is also dependent on our fiber lines.”

Going forward, Bury said the problem has been resolved, and she does not anticipate any more issues with the campus Internet.