Could a tree take out both your primary and backup internet connections?

Answer: Yes, it’s possible, unless your connections are diversely routed. And if you’re not sure if they are or not….. they’re probably not.

Could a tree take out both your primary and backup internet connections?

Answer: Yes, it’s possible, unless your connections are diversely routed. And if you’re not sure if they are or not….. they’re probably not.

If internet access is core to your business, and, let’s face it, whose isn’t nowadays, you may have two internet connections running to your office. Should one fail, the other will take over – usually at a slower speed, but, at least your staff can carry on working.  You may also look at having two different technologies – for example, if your primary connection is a fibre leased line, you may look at a backup circuit delivered over copper. This usually helps to protect against exchange or Point of Presence (POP) equipment failing.

Our office is “out in the sticks” somewhat – our nearest BT exchange is around 3 miles away which is a long way in the world of ADSL; our ADSL2+ connections max out at around 5Mb.
We invested in a leased line some years ago, and Openreach installed a fibre between the exchange and our office. Due to the geographical location, the best way to get this fibre down to the exchange is through a mix of over-ground (across telegraph poles) and under-ground (through ducts) cabling, including across and along a busy A road. The photo at the top of this blog post is the actual tree that took the fibre and copper cables out.

In our case, it would have been cost prohibitive to run our fibre to a different exchange – no existing ducts exist, no telegraph poles exist, so Openreach ran the fibre the best way they could. But guess what? It runs alongside the copper provision to our office park – the same copper we use for our backup connection. So, when a tree took it out on a Sunday evening, we lost the lot – and our IT monitoring platform went in to full alert mode.

A similar tale unfolded in 2018, when we lost access to a data centre we use. The data centre had what they thought to be diversely routed fibres going in to the data centre – indeed, they entered the building at different points. But, as it turns out, there was only one duct running under a certain farmers field – which, I presume due to geographical reasons, was used for both fibres. All good and well – until the farmer decided to install a new drainage system and, you guessed it, went through every fibre cable, causing several hours of downtime. So, then, even the best designed solutions can have that dreaded single point of failure (or risk, in this case) introduced somewhere.

Often when we consider internet connection installations, we focus on hardware issues. What if the Cisco router fails? What if the NTE fails? But often, a single point of failure may exist somewhere else – totally outside of your control. So if you’re thinking about installing a backup connection, consider the routing and how it gets to your property – consider geography as well as the technology.

Could you lessen risk on internet downtime? Absolutely, but it’s important to note that no-one can guarantee 100% uptime, no matter what the Service Level Agreement (SLA) says.

We offer a wide range of services, including ADSL2+, FTTC, FTTP, and Leased Lines. Contact us today to see how we can help provision, manage, and support your office internet connections today.

It’s worth noting that internet connectivity should form part of your disaster recovery plan.  What would happen if your internet connection went down at the office?  Would your staff be able to carry on working?  If not, do you have a plan of action?  Our engineers are setup to work from anywhere with an internet connection – we support our clients 24/7, so we need to be able to jump on to problems quick, regardless of where we are – even more so important with the COVID-19 pandemic.  Can you do the same?

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