[governance] FW: [IP] A Ridiculous Failure of Critical Infrastructure

Michael Gurstein gurstein at gmail.com
Wed Dec 2 11:31:57 EST 2009

Something for the IGC to address...
A bit of a warning re: a privatized infrastructure for the critical elements
of an Information Society especially as things are being pushed "into the
cloud" at an alarming rate.
So what happens when, banking, government, retail, education, health,
telecommunications etc.etc. are all effectively on the Internet/cloud
including their transactions, information flow and records and the Internet
goes down as below... and your friendly local privatized service provider
(whose ownership is buried under a dozen layers of tax shelter dummied
corporations ultimately housed in a post office box in the Caymans), and
their outsourced help desk doesn't/won't answer even if you can find an
operating (non-Internet based) phone ... 
Or have I missed something.
-----Original Message-----
From: Dave Farber [mailto:dave at farbe i r.net] 
Sent: Tuesday, December 01, 2009 12:10 PM
To: ip
Subject: [IP] A Ridiculous Failure of Critical Infrastructure

On 12/1/09 2:54 AM, "Matt Larsen - Lists" <lists at MANAGEISP.COM> wrote:

Some kind of combination of failure between Charter and Qwest has left
tens of thousands of people in Nebraska without Internet and has
disrupted the Internet and phone services for thousands more.    Right
now, the outage is going on 12 hours and there is no ETA for repair in

The word coming down is that the outage is on a Qwest fiber, but it
looks to me like both parties should be on the hot seat for not having
the ability to route around the problem.    There was a four hour outage
on Charter a week ago that was caused by a fiber cut in Gothenburg,
That one killed everything west of the cut, but it was small potatoes
compared to this one.   Is this truly the level of performance that we
can expect from our major Internet backbone providers?   It took me
about 10 seconds to re-route my traffic to a backup provider - you would
think that a couple of multimillion dollar companies would be able to
sort out a problem of this nature in a reasonable amount of time.   The
small CLEC that I use for my backup connection had enough capacity to
route around the problem and was even able to lend me a little bit after
5pm when the traffic on their network (mostly businesses) dropped off.
It isn't rocket science to figure out how to route around an outage.

Almost as frustrating is that there was NO news about the outages
anywhere except on the social networking sites (Facebook, Twitter).
One TV station in Hastings, NE put up a short story on their website,
but I got more news from the tweets and FB posts that people where
posting from their cell phones than I did from anywhere else.   None of
the network outage sites have any news about this.

Could this be a harbinger of things to come?   I am feeling pretty
thankful right now that I have a choice in backbone providers and that I
kept a second one.   Diversity is a good thing, and this is a great
example of why we need competition and multiple options for Internet.

Matt Larsen

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