Rats! Massive outage exposes vulnerable telecoms network

21 Jun 2005

Rats chewing through Telecom’s eastern fibre-optic cable in the Rimutaka area contributed to a massive communications outage on Monday that crippled telephone and internet communications for the lower North Island. The damage, which was also the result of a contractor working elsewhere on the network, has renewed concerns that the increasing complexity of the country’s interconnected communications systems has left it vulnerable to ‘network failure’. Technology think tank, the Centre for Advanced Engineering (CAE), says the country’s infrastructure is vulnerable to a so-called ‘cascade failure’ in which a problem on one network has a domino effect elsewhere. The outage shot down mobile and broadband internet connections and overloaded land lines for a five-hour period, although the country’s Communications Minister David Cunliffe brushed off the event as a ‘freak occurrence’.

New Zealand, Spark