United Fiber explains recent outages, future fixes
The smooth path of United Fiber’s internet, phone and TV service to Plattsburg has recently proven to be one with potholes, as major outages of the service have the businesses and residents wondering what has gone wrong.
The service outage was not just in Plattsburg but throughout United Fiber’s service area, which includes Cameron, Country Club, Excelsior Springs, Gower, Hopkins, King City, Lawson, Maysville, Maryville, Pickering, Savannah, Stanberry, Stewartsville and Union Star.
With a reputation for reliability since providing service to the Clinton County Courthouse in November 2016, the company has suffered notable outages beginning on February 20, followed by intermittent or no service on Tuesday, Feb. 25, and Wednesday, Feb. 26. Their emergency maintenance repair on Thursday morning from 2 a.m. to 5 a.m. failed to correct the problem that had plagued the system on the previous days.
Niki Dalton, business development manager for the company, released a summary about the most recent outage. She said the outages on Tuesday and Wednesday were due to a power controller on their main battery backup array. When the battery backup failed, it caused a complete power failure that led to the outages on Tuesday and Wednesday. The company’s engineers worked to get the network restored by 3:15 a.m. on Thursday, Feb. 27, and continued to perform maintenance until the network was stabilized by mid-morning.
Ms. Dalton added that network performance was also impacted during this time by a large broadcast data storm. This caused their main network up-links throughout their network to go up and down. United Fiber was able to engage some of their network partners to restore stability that day. Their company has acquired new hardware and software that will detect these issues sooner. It is set to be installed shortly.
In the next few weeks, she said United will be fast-tracking a larger upgrade process that was scheduled for later this year. This will provide new access and routing network components, basically doubling their capacity and creating another layer of redundancy. In addition, they are constructing an extra fiber route (approximately 5 miles) to improve network topology. This will help in mitigating future issues with the system.
In regard to the power backup failure, a new backup plan is being engineered that will be implemented in the next 60 days.
“Our current configuration had worked flawlessly for over five years and we expect the new unit to provide similar performance,” Dalton said. “However, we are adding a second unit to provide a redundant solution so the power fault we experienced will not expose a single risk to the network.”
On Sunday, March 1, United Fiber subscribers had issues with their streaming TV service. Ms. Dalton released the following explanation on the outage.
“Please be advised that a transport provider for one of our links to a major data center in Kansas City has an issue on their network. This took down our traffic for our streaming TV service for roughly 15 minutes before we failed over to a redundant link. It is important to note that this does not have any relation to any of the recent outages we have had. This is purely an issue on a transport provider’s network and is affecting several of their links.”
Additional outages will affect United Fiber customers as they schedule repairs. Eric Furr, network operations manager, released the following information about repair work scheduled on Monday, March 9, from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. He said during this time there will be a full service outage for video, data and phone. He stressed the point-to-point circuits would not be affected.
“Outage time is not expected to last for the duration of the maintenance window. The expected outage time is 30 minutes to an hour, as physical links are moved and connectivity verified,” he said in the release.
He said the upgrade to the new hardware had been planned for this year, but with the recent events, they have decided to move up the timeline.
“This new core infrastructure will provide a significant amount more of compute power and uplink capabilities at our network’s core. This is an important first step of many to get the network, and ultimately your service, brought up to the standards that you expect,” Furr concluded.