Lack of Redundancy in 911 Systems Highlighted by Nebraska Outage

by Yuri Nikolaenko

How Avoiding Cable Cuts and Costly Repairs?

Jan 19, 2024

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The recent failure of Nebraska’s 911 emergency system has raised concerns about the lack of redundancy in critical public safety infrastructure. For nearly 12 hours last August, two separate fiber optic cable cuts disabled 60% of the state’s 911 call centers. With no backup communication links in place, dispatchers struggled to respond to emergencies as calls went unanswered.

Repairing a fiber optic cable that has been damaged. Credit: Google

Investigations revealed the fiber optic cables were accidentally damaged by construction crews. However many argue that regardless of the specific cause, the impacts of the outage highlight Nebraska’s vulnerability due to insufficient diversity in 911 network infrastructure.

This incident illustrates the inherent risks of relying exclusively on vulnerable terrestrial infrastructure like buried fiber optic cable. Above-ground threats from construction mishaps to severe weather can easily disrupt such assets. And without adequate redundancy, single points of failure in the network can cripple critical operations like 911.

Unlike terrestrial cables and cell towers concentrated in high-density areas, satellite internet provides ubiquitous coverage across entire regions from space. Leading low-earth orbit (LEO) satellite providers like OneWeb are blanketing the globe with thousands of orbiting access points. This distributed infrastructure means local events seldom disrupt wider service. Even if local gateways or ground equipment fail, satellites continue beaming signals from above unaffected. Compared to the single point of failure seen with fiber backbone cuts, this resilience allows satellite networks to mitigate outages. Critical systems can utilize satellite as backup connectivity to maintain operations when primary links go down.

In disaster-prone areas, emergency responders are now integrating satellites for mission-critical communications redundancy. Satellite provides an independent pathway unaffected by damaged cell towers or flooded network facilities on the ground. For rural 911 dispatch centers like those serving Nebraska, satellite guarantees call routing diversity. Combining VoIP telephone capabilities with satellite internet backup offers affordable resilience for PSAPs. Traffic can instantly failover to backup satellite links should primary connections drop.

Not only is this variety of transport methods key to withstanding outages, but satellite and cellular access is far quicker and more affordable to deploy across wide geographies than fiber-optic cable. Once in place, satellite networks prove extremely reliable while avoiding terrestrial infrastructure exposures.

Modern LEO constellations like OneWeb have advanced far beyond earlier satellite internet in speed, capacity, and low latency. OneWeb delivers quality on par with fiber, opening the door to support advanced applications. And with exponentially lower costs than traditional satellites, LEO networks now provide enterprise-grade service once reserved for wired links.

That’s why supplementing fiber with wireless alternatives like satellite is key for resilience. Satellite connectivity offers a versatile redundant path, unencumbered by terrestrial risks. Modern broadband satellite services deliver speeds rivaling fiber, with some offering dedicated unlimited data at over 150 Mbps. This makes satellites a viable backup for mission-critical communications. Rather than bearing the excessive cost of further hardening fiber routes, a hybrid wired and wireless strategy provides superior diversity and resiliency. Satellite connectivity can be rapidly deployed to restore communications when land-based infrastructure fails. Progressive agencies are already utilizing satellite links as a cost-effective insurance policy for uninterrupted 911 capabilities.

In light of these considerations, BusinessCom Networks offers a fully reliable broadband satellite solution that eliminates the risks of cable cuts and costly repairs. With extensive diagnostics, troubleshooting tools, and unlimited services, BusinessCom Networks ensures seamless connectivity for businesses, governments, and organizations. Say goodbye to data quotas and embrace the reliability and flexibility of satellite internet. Trust BusinessCom Networks to keep your operations connected without the worry of infrastructure vulnerabilities.

Please contact us with any questions about availability in your region and discuss any satellite service needs.

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