Posted at 02/08/2016 09:49pm
Internet outages happen literally thousands of times each year. At one stage or another you’ll be unlucky enough to find yourself in the midst of an outage caused by some unknown factor and completely outside your control. In fact, there are many causes of internet outages ranging from faulty equipment in data centers, telecom exchanges or simply environmental issues.
Trust me I know, as an ex. Network Engineer employed by Optus I was responsible for faults and maintenance of the core SDH and IP transmission equipment and was one of the team members on a rotating roster on-call during all hours of the night, one eye opened, just waiting for that phone call from the NOC (network operations center) at 12AM briefing me on some urgent outage whereas half of Brisbane or some major Airline's phones, internet or VPN had or was about to fall off the planet. Certainly, the job was definitely up my alley and loved every moment of it.
Working as a Network Engineer in the faults and maintenance team meant you needed to be level headed, ready to act accordingly and swiftly to mitigate outages and customer down-time.
After all, many of these big companies are paying good money for service assurance with SLA's in place of around 4 hours or less otherwise there would be entitlement to compensation for the business depending on the SLA tier they were on.
What Causes Internet Outages?
Internet outages are caused by various factors, and being the technician that actually isolated and fixed networks and internet faults on a daily basis, I’d have to say many of the outages were caused by nodes and equipment cards failing under environmental conditions like overheating, water, geckos followed by fibre breaks out on the street, then power outages following in last, where even the battery backup equipment fails that was running the equipment.
Generally, when you notice a fault with your internet connection or phone lines down, and it was caused by one of the above scenarios, you’ll need to allow your ISP some time to first identify the fault, perform some troubleshooting steps to best locate whether its something logical they can fix remotely before sending out a skilled technician to physically attend the node/site to restore the outage.
How Long Do Internet Outages Generally Last?
Mentioned above your ISP will have a dedicated team of engineers sitting inside a big room called the NOC. These guys’ jobs are to sit around and monitor alarms and resolve problems with the network.
As you could appreciate the amount of customers, nodes and the sheer size of some of these interconnecting networks such that Telstra and Optus operate, who actually own most of their infrastructure, there are alarms for doors, batteries, old alarms, new alarms and many others things popping up all over the place. Sometimes it may take a short while before the NOC is made aware of an actual outage.
However, most of the ISP’s do have techs on standby throughout all hours of the night, but to give you a rough restoration time-frame, I’ll detail possible average realistic and general resolution times below.
Fault is identified through the NOC or multiple customers complaining within a section or area = 30 minutes.
The Engineers within the NOC, need to log into upstream and downstream nodes to identify where the network has lost connectivity = 30 minutes.
The Engineers within the NOC, will identify the severity of the outage and whether there can be a fix applied logically, or an Engineer is required to be engaged with a truck roll-out = 30 minutes.
Should a truck roll be required, a technician will be required to leave or drop what they are doing immediately and pick up some spare parts or whatever maybe required and drive to the troubled site or Exchange and repair the node = 1.5 hours.
9 times out of 10 replacing hardware, cables, and reconfiguring the equipment will restore services and everyone is back online surfing the internet. However, there are situations where nodes can be down for significant time more depending on parts availability or the distance to the site having problems.
Also picture this, building a telecommunications network whereas hundreds of millions of dollars worth of infrustructure is involved is not so much an easy task, in fact the opposite, there is many layers and processes involved in building a network of scale. All to find out, once you've completed a country rollout, that equipment is not becoming obsolete and reached it's lifecycle and new equipment will needed to be rolled out to keep up with data usage and bandwidth demand.
So, next time you have an outage, just think for the small amount of money you're paying each month for cheap internet access, you might want to consider a backup solution using another provider to stay on the safe side.
How to Identify Internet Outages?
One of the best things to do, is try to identify whether your outage is caused by something local within your home or business first before jumping on the phone to a long wait-time with your ISP over in manila who probably don’t have the information for the outage anyway.
Alternatively, we have developed an online portal called Internet Outages that lets users and ISP subscribers log faults through an easy to use Portal so you can make aware, or be aware of any outstanding live issues with your internet around your local suburb or city. It’s quite simple to use and we’ve created and integrated a lot of AI type architecture into it, making it the leading outages notification system currently in Australia.
What ISP’s are listed on Internet Outages?
We have managed to include the following ISP list:
Telstra, Optus, Foxtel, Exetel, iiNet, Internode, Dodo, Iprimus, MyNetFone, TPG and Amaysim (they will be entering the fixed NBN sector as they just purchased AUSBBS).
With the combination of using our internet outages portal or contacting our local Mr Telco technician we should be able to pinpoint whether your problem maybe within your property and your responsibility requring a telephone or internet technician or in fact something your ISP will be required to resolve. However, feel free to browse the Internet Outages website and drop one of our technicians a line on 1300 788 987 for any questions whatsoever, we’d be more than happy to assist.