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On Sunday, 11 November 2018, the on-call team was notified of a service failure in Otelfingen. Two kilometres of fibre optic cable had to be replaced. The disruption had been caused by rats gnawing on the cables.
The repair was originally scheduled for the following Saturday, but cablex was in fact able to fix the problem by Wednesday evening. A team of 20 cablex employees (measurement engineers, cable drawers and splicers) were involved. But what exactly happened?
After being notified of the disruption, a cablex technician went to the site to get an initial idea of the scope of the problem. Site manager Alen Bura then identified the specific issue on Monday morning. ‘As various different parties at a significant distance from the disruption were affected, I already suspected that animals were involved. Fibre optic cable connections are tested using a light that travels from the beginning to the end of the regional cable. In this case, that was from Buchs in the canton of Zurich to Baden in the canton of Aargau. The metering instrument then indicates where exactly the signal is disrupted. Using the plans, we were then able to isolate the fault,’ says Alen.
Before the new cable could be laid, however, the duct had to be cleaned out by a pest control firm. As numerous parties were affected by the disruption, cablex worked flat out to fix it. Among other issues, a mobile antenna had malfunctioned, which meant that 4G reception in the area around the affected duct was either weaker than usual or completely unusable, as the next antenna was too far away. A FAN connection that various business customers relied on was affected, and several regional cables were also damaged. As a result, payments had to be made in cash in the affected area, as card machines were no longer receiving a signal.
‘Some residents took their frustration about being offline out on us. And of course, we understand that the situation was unsatisfactory. However, we worked flat out to resolve the problem, putting in three shifts on the first day. We explained this to unsatisfied residents,’ reports Alen.
In total, we had to splice six new fibre optic couplings. In other words, we laid two kilometres of new fibre optic cables and reconnected 408 filaments. Thanks to this extraordinary effort, we were able to resolve the disruption after just three days.
We hope that our rapid intervention meant that Otelfingen only suffered minor outages. This disruption was exceptional for us, as an unusually high number of different parties were affected. We would like to thank all those affected for their understanding.