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Network outage - Phil's Rambling Rants
May 7th, 2010
03:05 pm

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Network outage
So, yesterday, when I got up, I went over to my computer to dial up to the net, and nuttin' happened.  After breakfast, I got out for a walk, and the utility locator guy was down at the end of Rebmann lane talking to the construction crew.  They'd broken a phone cable but they were hoping it was an old one.  No such luck, I told them.  I got my own trouble ticket in after the walk.

I spent a nice hour on the beach at Sportsman's Lake, and another couple of hours walking around up in that area.

After breakfast today, I got out.  Met the alternate garbage man coming up the lane.  He'd actually gotten my garbage once, a few months ago, but I never got a bill or any other mail acknowledging that I was officially a customer.  He only comes once a month and I wasn't sure which day it was supposed to be.  But he assured me that yes I was on the route, and he did get my garbage today.  I don't produce much trash (since I live alone, I recycle everything I can, and I try to avoid excess packaging), but after at least 3 months, it was definitely time.  Then I got out to the road and the phone company crew were actively working on the splice.  It was interesting to watch the process, so I stood around and chatted with them for probably an hour and a half.  They told me that the reason the cable had been cut was that it had gotten buried in the wet concrete the last time they'd worked on the storm drain there (which was probably over 20 years ago), so that even if the cable had been properly marked (which they claim it wasn't) they couldn't have taken out the old drain without breaking the phone cable.

The tech doing the phone install really knew what he was doing, and I got to watch pretty much the whole process.  Every step of it made perfect sense, but it was still pretty impressive that they have such a smooth process.  This was a 50 pair cable, and they were actually splicing a loop into the main cable so that the construction people could have enough slack that they wouldn't have to build it into the concrete structure again this time.  Two spices means four cable ends; each cable end was punched onto two 25 pair connectors.  The tool he used was a solidly built stand that the connector fit into, and a hydraulic punchdown tool that fit over it.  After slotting each of the 50 wires into the plastic connector (I've done similar work myself, so I know that it's easier than it looks to get it right, but this guy was *fast*, he put 25 pairs in in the time I'd take to painstakingly do about 3), he slotted this tool over the slot in the stand and pumped it about 6 times until it went kachunk.  Just like a hand punch tool, but 25 pairs at once.  Then, with the connectors on both ends of the splice, he wrapped it in sticky plastic, mixed a two component rubber sealant, poured the sealant into the bag made from the plastic, wrapped it in clear tape, and then covered the whole thing with sheets of a self-adhesive black plastic material half a centimeter thick, and sealed the package with a dozen super heavy duty zip ties.  He had another cool little tool that ratcheted down the big zip ties to make them super tight.

So, my phone works and I can connect to the net again.  And I feel pretty confident that the splice job will last until the next backhoe comes along, even if that's several decades from now.

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