Extreme Cold Freezes Out Internet, Phones in Madison County, Ind.

A fiber-optic cable hut stopped working as a result of freezing conditions, disrupting the Internet connections and phone service across two local governments. Emergency services were not impacted.

by Laura Arwood, The Herald Bulletin / January 31, 2019
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(TNS) — The severe cold froze the internal systems of Madison County and the city of Anderson on Wednesday.

Sometime between 6 and 7 a.m. Wednesday, a fiber-optic cable hut stopped working, causing the two governments' internal phones and Internet servers to crash, Madison County IT Director Lisa Cannon said.

The fiber optics service is provided by LightBound Data Centers in Indianapolis.

"Some of the services we have are unable to communicate with each other," she said. "We can do everything manually."

Madison County Dispatch Director Brent Jensen said that while the system was down, the 911 operations were not.

"We're still getting calls and we're still sending out services," he said, "so the most important part of the system is working."

LightBound sent a team to the malfunctioning hut to warm up the freezing system and repair the problem. On Wednesday afternoon, Cannon said she didn't know when the problem would be fixed.

ELEARNING DISRUPTED

Like much of the city, students and teachers felt the effects of the cold by being unable to connect to the internet for their eLearning activities, Anderson Community Schools Superintendent Timothy Smith confirmed.

“We were trying to figure out whether it was just us and then figured out it was citywide,” he said. “Things are getting fixed. These things happen. We just remain flexible.”

This is the first full year that ACS has implemented eLearning days, and this is the first time they have been used as a replacement for snow days.

Smith said the Internet outage wasn’t a problem for most teachers because they already had uploaded their lessons. The eLearning policy already allows students five days to complete their assignments.

“The five days for the kids to get their work done is ample time for them to complete things accurately,” he said.

Reporter Rebecca R. Bibbs contributed to this story.

©2019 The Herald Bulletin (Anderson, Ind.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.