G+: What a mess

David Coles
What a mess. Going to take quite some time to clean up. On the plus side it looks like they're taking the opportunity to rewire with fiber rather than copper.

Into the vault: the operation to rescue Manhattan's drowned internet

(+1's) 2
Michael Poloni
Australia's copper network looks very similar to this, although I don't think we have fibre mixed in through the same holes as the copper.  Thankfully for us, from what I've seen most of our exchanges are all above-ground and so less susceptible to flooding.

Once water gets in there you're in big trouble.  We still have copper shielded with paper in some parts too, which was the cause of a huge mess at Melbourne University not long ago (it was the University's cabling, not Telstra's).  Thankfully they'd almost finished rolling out VOIP, so they solved the problem by re-prioritising an urgent rollout to the affected areas.

One issue I expect that we have in Australia is that our copper network is slowly being allowed to decay.  Why keep up its condition with the NBN coming soon?  I got to visit a suburban Telstra exchange not long ago and discovered that a number of lines were not keeping the air pressure up to the right levels.  It was explained to me that the cause was leaks somewhere along the line, and these can be difficult to locate & repair.  Especially so when it was laid several decades ago!

Is fibre less susceptible to flooding than copper?

David Coles
That's more or less what I understand to be the biggest problem with our with copper networks - they're corroding away at an alarming rate. I suspect that's the main reason for pumping air through the tubing - to keep the moisture out which which would accelerate corrosion and cause electrical shortages.

Fiber on the other hand is much more resilient to corrosion (it does happen, but much slower process) and doesn't have the electrical issues. Thus provided the terminators stay clean, they should handle the occasional dampness much better.

Michael Poloni
+David Coles Yes, it's standard practice to keep the copper in sealed pipes under air pressure.  This is so that any leaks in the piping will push air out instead of letting water in.  That's the norm when it was laid, not something retrofitted recently.