Letter: Telecom outage was unacceptable | AspenTimes.com

Letter: Telecom outage was unacceptable

I am writing to urge you to cast the public eye on the seriousness of the recent phone outage. Below is the text I have filed as a complaint with the Colorado Public Utilities Commission:

“This is to request, in no uncertain terms, a full investigation into the 16-plus hour outage that occurred May 26 to 27 in the Roaring Fork Valley south of Glenwood Springs.

As an engineer, I’m just astonished. Virtually all the phones in the entire middle and upper Roaring Fork Valley — landlines and 911 as well as (at least) Verizon and AT&T cell phones — were disabled.

To have no redundancy whatsoever in that large a communications system is simply unacceptable — a virtual engineering and planning fiasco.

There are CenturyLink switches in Aspen, Basalt and Carbondale and a ton of copper interconnecting everything. How is it the system design is so fragile that all of that infrastructure is rendered useless by a single construction faux pas a mile outside of Glenwood? (If we are to believe a fiber cut there is really the culprit for such a massive outage.) If it is, that contractor should be given a reward for revealing to the world how failure-prone the system really is.

Thursday’s Aspen Daily News carried this astonishing quote: “‘The company was continuing to investigate how a third-party contractor that was working on the construction of a cellphone tower severed the line Tuesday around 5 p.m.,” said CenturyLink spokeswoman Sara Spaulding.’ (“Outage fixed, inquiry begins into accident”)

Are you kidding? The who and how of the fiber break ought to be vary far down the priority list of things being investigated.

The investigative focus should instead be on the ineffective engineering design and implementation and upon efforts to correct these deficiencies with the utmost celerity.”

Thank you,

Bruce Anderson