Not All Rural Areas Lack Broadband Redundancy

Almost all networks in Georgia's Greater Dalton area have redundancies built in, making the area less vulnerable to a broadband outage.

by Charles Oliver, The Daily Citizen / April 29, 2015
Downtown Dalton, Ga. Flickr/ J. Stephen Conn

(TNS) -- While Internet connections can and do go down, the Greater Dalton, Ga., area isn’t as vulnerable to the sort of outage that happened in Arizona because it isn’t as remote and isolated as the area where that outage took place.

“We have a lot of connections because we are on that corridor not just between Atlanta and Chattanooga but to Nashville and even on to Chicago,” said Hank Blackwood, chief technology services officer at Dalton Utilities. “Almost all of those networks have some sort of redundant path. That helps us locally. We tap into different providers at different points. A cut to a major cable would be disruptive, but it wouldn’t be like a cut in one of these isolated places such as what happened in Arizona.”

In Arizona, a cut in a single line disrupted services to two small cities.

“They either did not have an alternative path or may have had an alternative path on the same cable,” Blackwood said.

Blackwood said OptiLink, Dalton Utilities’ broadband and telephone service, has redundancies built into its internal system as well.

Phillip McAbee, divisional vice president of Windstream Communications, which serves Whitfield and Murray counties, says it has redundancies built into its system as well.

“Certainly, we have redundancies between the central offices in Atlanta and Dalton,” he said. “But it is true that as you move further away from the central offices you have fewer redundancies. Close to the central office, there’s a lot of traffic and more need for redundancies. As you get out into rural areas, and there’s less traffic, there may not be as many. And if you get to a unit that serves only 20 customers, there may just be one thread.

“But we are constantly investigating where we may have single points of failure, and we are constantly reinvesting our capital not only to improve our services but also to improve our redundancies,” he added.

Whitfield County Emergency Management Director Claude Craig and Murray County Fire Chief and Emergency Management Director Dewayne Bain say a broadband disruption should not have the impact on emergency communications locally that it did in Arizona because the towers here aren’t linked to the Internet.

Craig said that will also be true of the new digital communications system Whitfield County plans to purchase.

“The tower connections are redundant and connected by a county-owned microwave system that is completely independent of any telecommunications company,” he said.

©2015 The Daily Citizen (Dalton, Ga.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.