2014/11/27 - Fibre break affecting off-campus accommodation
Shortly before 3:50 PM today, two fibre optic cables that connect most off-campus accommodation to the university network were broken by contractors working on the new Life Sciences Building. Network traffic was automatically routed via a backup wireless link to keep those buildings connected. Unfortunately, the backup link has a fraction of the capacity of the fibre optic links. As a result, network performance will be substantially below normal.

We intend to investigate whether it is possible to splice in a new section of fibre optic cable tomorrow morning. Further updates will be posted to this page.

The buildings affected are:
  • 1 on Luke
  • 3 on Luke
  • 3rd on Milner
  • Allen Place
  • Aquitaine Way
  • Celeste House
  • Chessington Flats
  • Eleanor Court
  • The Greens
  • The Hub
  • New Holland
  • Somerset Corner
  • Summer Place
  • Tintagel
A complete repair of this break involves replacing an approximately 500m section for each of the two affected fibre cables (a total of 72 fibre optic strands). Unfortunately we do not have this cable in stock, nor has responsibility for the break yet been fully established. As a result it is likely that a permanent repair will take at least a week or more.

It is possible for us to make a partial temporary repair (8 fibre strands) using materials we do have in stock. This would restore more or less normal network capacity to the off-campus sector. However this repair would have to be completely removed when the permanent repair happens, and the materials cannot be re-used (they become e-waste). Thus we need to carefully evaluate whether such a repair is warranted for a short period.

In order to do this we have been monitoring traffic levels on the backup wireless link. Whilst there was some congestion last night, during the course of today the link has had adequate capacity. Given that today is the last day of undergraduate exams and many students have left or are likely to leave shortly, we've decided to defer a decision on the temporary link until next week.
No temporary repair was done on this fibre, and the off-campus sector is still being served by the backup wireless link. The main reason for this is the out-of-term traffic did not justify the extra expense; the wireless link has been coping reasonably well, but is beginning to struggle now that students are starting to return.

Unfortunately there were significant delays as a result of both the University's and the building industry's end of year shutdowns. As a result we're still trying to finalise things with the contractors involved. Nevertheless, materials for a permanent repair have been ordered and will be held as stock in our stores until this can be sorted out.

Whilst we'd like this repair to be completed before the beginning of term, there's currently no firm ETA for it. It depends on a number of factors, including the weather (we cannot splice fibre whilst it is wet and muddy).
We haven't yet had the go-ahead from the Life Sciences building project to make this repair, but we're expecting that it will be received later today.

We expect that the repair work will be completed before the end of this week.
We've received a go-ahead for the repair, but we'd already commenced preparations in any event.
Some of the fibre pairs in this cable have now been spliced, including the ones required to bring normal service back to the off campus sector. However, there is a risk of a further outage whilst the remaining pairs are spliced.