(Winthrop-MN) Services are restored after two separate fiber-optic cable cut incidents occurred 15-minutes apart and separated by 100 miles. The incident left many RS Fiber Cooperative (RS Fiber) customers without services for several hours.
Wednesday afternoon, RS Fiber received a report around 3:30 pm of a cut fiber cable near Winthrop, MN. Shortly afterwards, at 3:45 pm, it was learned that a second fiber cut had occurred in Red Wing, MN. Individually, neither incident would have caused much interruption as the RS Fiber network operates on a redundant fiber-optic service ring, owned and managed by Hiawatha Broadband Communications of Winona, MN. When there is a disruption along one point of the ring, the network reverses service signals sending them along the redundant fiber path. But when two cuts occur to the ring simultaneously, a signal gap is created, which causes an interruption of services between the two points.
“Fiber cuts occur several times each year,” explained HBC president, Dan Pecarina. “Because of our redundant network, signals are not interrupted, and customers are unaware anything has happened. But when two cuts occur to the network at the same time, there is a signal disruption in the network which results in an outage situation.”
Damage near Winthrop was caused by a utility contractor working in the area. In Red Wing, a contractor working for another service provider, was drilling underground to place additional conduit. During this process the drill bit struck a rock and bounced into a trench containing HBC’s network fiber. Nearly 15 feet of fiber-optic cable was damaged, resulting in a major, time-consuming repair operation.
HBC and RS Fiber personnel worked through the night, finishing repairs in Red Wing shortly before 2:00 a.m. Repairs were completed in Winthrop around 5:00 a.m. and all services restored at that time.