Teeth marks yield clue to widespread internet outage in Canada

The chompers belonged to a beaver and offer a parable on the risks of a shared physical layer


Here:s a novel cause for an internet outage: a beaver.

This story comes from Canada, where CTV News Vancouver yesterday reported that Canadian power company BC Hydro investigated the cause of a June 7 outage that "left many residents of north-western British Columbia without internet, landline and cellular service for more than eight hours."

That investigation found tooth marks at the base of a tree that fell across BC Hydro wires. Canadian mobile network operator shares the poles BC Hydro uses, so its optical fibre came down with the electrical wires.

Internet-watching org NetBlocks, which often comments on politically motivated outages, felt the need to offer its take on this incident.

CTV news points out that the incident was no joke, as it meant electronic payment systems were unavailable, and that meant some motorists were unable to pay for fuel and took a chance that they could reach the next service station that did have connectivity – two hours drive away. Canada is big.

For Reg readers, the outage perhaps serves as a reminder that many perils threaten the physical layer, and that sharing that layer with another provider may be a convenient way to build infrastructure but can also come back to bite you. ®

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