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Metronet News Fall 2012


Metronet News: Fall 2012 #1

Service Interruptions: Hits Happen

Metronet Zing isn’t perfect.


We are proud of a record of reliability that exceeds 99.9 percent. Although errant construction crews and nature have interrupted service to parts of the fiber backbone on just five occasions in more than six years, not once has the entire fiber network been down.


Subscribers, too, have had service interruptions. Those usually are traced to their own equipment or that of service providers.


No matter what causes a service interruption, Metronet’s main goal is to see that service is restored quickly and efficiently. For subscribers, knowing whom to call and when to call will help ensure that goal is met.


This is the first in a series of newsletter articles that share what we have learned and help you, our subscribers, prevent interruptions, react to interruptions and restore service.


This first installment explains the physical structure of Metronet and how we and subscribers monitor service.


Our next issue will explore common causes for failure and how they can be diagnosed and prevented.


The third will discuss the importance of having a backup plan and detail some common backup options.


How Metronet Works

The reliability of Metronet’s fiber network is no surprise. We designed and built it that way. Our 99.9 percent record proves we have been doing things right.


Metronet can be thought of as multiple, overlapping rings of strands of fiber optic cable. These rings of fiber are routed through underground conduit and extend throughout South Bend, Mishawaka and St. Joseph County. Subscribers lease specific strands of this fiber backbone.


Connecting lines, called laterals, are installed to link their locations and equipment to their leased strands of fiber.


Metronet’s ring design means that, if the fiber is cut – if the circle is broken – the signal can be routed to the subscriber around the other side of the ring.


One set of fiber strands is reserved for the Network Operations Center – our NOC – which continuously monitors to see that a signal sent at one end of the loop is received at the other. If that signal fails to reach the other end, an alarm lets the NOC know to begin looking for the cause.


Should there be a break or other damage, the NOC is likely to be aware and have notified manintenance crews even before subscribers notice.


When Things Do Go Wrong

Steve Mayo, president of Inteleconnect Inc., is a consultant who helped design the Metronet Zing fiber network. He points out that there really isn’t much that can go wrong since Metronet is simply made up of dark fiber cables and conduit.


Twice in Metronet’s seven-year history, construction crews severed the fiber lines. On three other occasions, acts of nature interrupted the network.


In an uncounted number of times, however, subscribers have lost service. The cause in almost all of those incidents has been with the subscriber’s own equipment.


One person perhaps most familiar with the physical structure of the fiber network and with subscribers' installations is Matt Wiseman of Martell Electric. Martell constructed the fiber network and also installed most lateral connections to subscribers. Wiseman is project manager for Metronet.


“It’s important to remember that when connectivity is lost, subscribers may not immediately be aware of the cause, nor do we expect them to,” Wiseman said. Correcting the problem, however, depends on determining whether it is a subscriber or fiber issue.


The key to finding out, Wiseman says, is to immediately call the NOC monitoring center to report an outage. That number is 866-SJVM-HELP (866-758-6435).


If the NOC confirms a fiber problem, Martell crews are called to begin working to restore service.


If the problem is not with the fiber network, there are simple steps the subscriber can take to begin diagnosing the trouble. Those steps are outlined in the next installment of this series.