January 26, 2011 in Business

Crash cuts electricity and Internet

By The Spokesman-Review

Avista customers lost electrical power and a number of businesses lost Internet service Tuesday morning after a car smashed into a utility pole in Otis Orchards.

About 700 homes were without power for more than 90 minutes after the 4:30 a.m. incident at the intersection of Starr Road and Wellesley Avenue.

The longer-lasting impact was on Internet service for more than a dozen business customers of Colorado-based Zayo Enterprises, a fiber network company. Zayo Enterprises manages a large network of fiber-optic cables.

Three routes of fiber-optic lines converge on the power pole that was knocked over, company spokesman Glenn Russo said.

Russo said the fiber lines would be reconnected by Tuesday evening. The power lines had to be repaired before the fiber lines could be fixed, he said.

Russo was not able to say how many companies lost Internet service.

Customers have the choice of using Zayo’s “dark fiber” or “lit fiber.” The lit fiber customers arrange for Zayo to operate the electronics that operate their network. Dark fiber customers manage that on their own and lease fiber from Zayo.

Russo said lit customers whose networks were affected by the pole damage most likely have redundant services that kept them operating. He said fewer than five lit fiber customers were not using protected services and lost their networks.

He had no way of knowing how many dark fiber customers were affected. “Since we don’t manage the (dark fiber), they operate their system on their own, apart from us,” Russo said.

The pole struck by the car has phone and power lines used by Avista Utilities.

Russo said fiber carriers use poles or bury lines. “You end up picking your poison,” he said.

Aerial lines are more frequently broken than underground lines. “But they’re also much easier to fix, by nature of being in the open,” he said.

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