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September 13, 2017

The less expected reasons behind broadband outages

We get it. When your internet goes down it can wreak havoc on your ‘me’ time, work deliverables, personal admin, catch ups and kids’ quiet time. That floundering feeling of panic when you don’t quite know what to do with yourself is usually only beaten by a power cut. But it might make you feel better knowing that we share your frustration, more often than you’d think.

As guardians of the lion’s share of New Zealand’s fixed phone and broadband lines of course we experience disruptions and defects to our lines. But there is also a significant amount of physical damage caused to our network by others and the variety of scenarios may surprise you:

Creatures, great and small – rats like to gnaw through cables, gardeners turning the earth and even an intoxicated person has been known to push over a broadband cabinet. No mean feat!

The machines - cars crashing into broadband cabinets, contractors drilling, cutting and earthworks damaging cables.

Forces of nature - flooding, fire, lightning, felled trees, wind and rain. Mother Nature doesn’t always play nice.

When our network is affected, we’ll do what we can to restore services as quickly as possible. But we don’t always work alone; we build, manage and maintain the network, but your telecommunications service provider delivers your broadband or phone services. This means often there are multiple parties involved. Working out first what has caused the damage, then the extent and finally how to fix it can be an in-depth and multi-step process.

Our network is alarmed and normally we can quickly and accurately locate any issues. Sometimes however, when there are issues caused by someone or something damaging one of our fibre or copper cables, it can take time to identify and access the exact location of the damage.

When it comes to repairs, there are often many facets to the fix and coordinating these all can take time. It may not be as simple as sending a technician out to a cabinet, but may require council approvals, traffic management plans, road access, height access, concrete cut, new parts, specialist contractors or additional man power. Some of these can add hours, sometimes days, delay to getting your service back up and running.

Fraser Hill, Chorus manager of service events, shares a recent example that meant many parties, people and policy were involved in resolving an outage in Auckland.

“A company doing some drilling work recently struck one of our fibre ducts, making a mess of fibre cabling where the drill hit and causing damage to fibre further down the line.  Unfortunately, some of this damage was under a bus stop, located near a main intersection on a busy road. So not only did we need to fix the damage at the actual drill site, we had to apply to the council for traffic management consent before we could actually get underneath the reinforced concrete at the bus stop to repair the fibre at the secondary site.

“We understand that time is money and, for many, no internet means no work or at the least inefficient work. Fixing outages is always a priority and we work hard and fast to find and fix the faults. We have a dedicated team who work tirelessly and at all hours to restore services as soon as possible.”

If you find yourself without internet access or your phone line, check our Network Outages Map. It can be easy to think that someone else has already reported the outage but make sure you contact your phone or broadband provider to log a fault.

And if you are planning on working in the garden it pays to check with our cable location services. It’s better to be safe, than without broadband.

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