Network Redundancy Sets Elevate Apart From Competition During Flood
Elevate’s unprecedented choice to build backup fiber service lines for consumers results in rapid response to flood damage in the North Fork Valley.
Wednesday, May 24 – When flood waters from the North Fork of the Gunnison River washed out a power pole near Paonia, CO on Saturday, May 20, hundreds were left without electricity. Elevate Internet's fiber lines that deliver high-speed broadband to the region were also damaged, cutting off internet, TV, and phone services for around 150 consumers. Delta-Montrose Electric Association (DMEA) quickly rerouted electricity and steadily restored power to approximately 693 impacted homes and businesses over the course of the day.
Rerouting service is standard practice in the electric industry because electric grids are built with numerous redundant—or backup—power lines. DMEA established an alternate feed for electricity into the area in mere minutes. But that's typically not the case for internet service providers.
"Rarely will you find an internet company that invests in building redundant lines for its consumers. But we're not like most internet companies. From day one, Elevate has proactively built redundant loops in our system for situations like we faced this weekend," said Kent Blackwell, DMEA/Elevate Chief Technology Officer.
In the North Fork Valley, power and internet services first went down at approximately 11:00 a.m., Saturday morning. Thanks to joint efforts between DMEA lineworkers, Elevate network engineers, and splicing technicians, the bulk of consumer services were restored by mid- afternoon. Work continued into the night, with additional services coming online by midnight. A small portion of internet services remained down through the night and the following day, with complete restoration at approximately 1:30 p.m.
"We were able to adapt quickly and activate a new path for delivering internet service; most consumers were back online in less than 24 hours. Without Elevate's network flexibility, it would likely have been several weeks before flood waters receded enough for us to safely reconstruct that line segment and restore services," said Blackwell.
While the concept is the same, establishing an alternate pathway for broadband service requires more manual adjustments than for the electric grid. In this instance, Elevate network engineers made physical cabling and equipment changes in the communication shack that serves the North Fork Valley. Simultaneously, Elevate's splicing technicians were in the field activating the equipment necessary to reroute broadband service.
"While it takes manual effort to reroute traffic, especially to individual consumer homes, it was only possible because of the preplanning and investments Elevate made in its network. Far too many providers refuse to spend the time or funds to build redundant lines, and the consumer suffers. We are extremely grateful for our subscribers' patience and understanding," said Blackwell.
DMEA and Elevate will permanently repair the poles, power lines, and fiber-optic cables damaged by flood waters once it is safe for crews to access the area. Until then, DMEA and Elevate are monitoring their system and equipment to identify any new potential risks for service interruptions due to flooding.