By Ernie Hoffmann, Sr. Vice President, Operations & Fulfillment
Are we prepared for the next major storm?
Whether it is a late season hurricane brewing off the coast or an ice storm that is building strength in Texas and moving towards the southeast, extreme weather conditions pose a significant threat to our safety, property, and business. Any time a massive storm threatens to strike, concerned citizens monitor the evolving weather patterns and try to predict the severity of the weather event, when it will hit, where it will make landfall, and how significant the impact will be.
At FiberLight, the most important question we ask well ahead of any major storm event is, “Are we prepared?”
Internet connectivity is critical in the wake of a disaster, allowing people to call for help, receive important news and information about how to stay safe, and maintain contact with loved ones. Recognizing the importance of reliable connectivity, FiberLight has gone to great lengths to ensure our network is ready to withstand even the most devastating storms and keep our customers – and the people who rely on the services they provide – online when it matters most. That is why our preparations have been underway long before any threat of potential harm has presented itself.
To safeguard our network’s uptime and connectivity in the wake of catastrophic weather events, FiberLight developed a Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Plan. Stakeholders from all departments within the organization contribute to the creation of this plan to guarantee that all aspects of the business are represented, and the plan is divided into three key areas: Preparation, Assessment, and Response & Recovery. We also review this plan annually to ensure that every element of our policy features the most up-to-date information and best practices.
FiberLight’s overall goal is to be proactive and prepared before severe weather events occur. The Preparation phase of our program details the responsibilities of operational groups within the organization, and establishes detailed communication schedules at specific intervals – including 5 days prior to the expected event, and again 72 hours, 48 hours and 24 hours before the storm strikes. The preparation checklist spans a range of macro to micro projects, from the coordination of work schedules for FiberLight employees to fueling up all FiberLight vehicles and charging cell phones. By focusing so much attention to detail, FiberLight can help ensure the safety of our employees and safeguard business continuity for our customers.
Immediately following the impact of the storm, FiberLight will initiate a thorough review of facilities and equipment by each Operational Group. Next, FiberLight’s Storm Team will coordinate with Federal, State and Local Government authorities to determine when it is safe to dispatch personnel tasked with organizing a comprehensive assessment of any localized damage. FiberLight’s Field Personnel will work with the Network Operations Center (NOC) to determine and prioritize the repair of damaged infrastructure and implement the FiberLight Emergency Restoration Plan.
Response & Recovery
FiberLight has built a full roster of contractors who will perform emergency repairs in the event that there is damage to the network. We also have a full team of emergency NOC professionals on standby to facilitate the inevitable influx of calls, making sure our clients and their customers are given the attention they require. In addition, when a threat is announced, FiberLight takes the necessary steps to ensure we have ample resources to get up-and-running as quickly as possible, stockpiling fuel and sourcing extra cable and aerial strand.
Strength in the face of the storm
What makes FiberLight unique is not only our attention to detail when it comes to preparing for natural disasters, but the sheer resiliency of our existing network infrastructure. Past hurricanes and extreme weather events have left a staggering amount of damage in their paths; however, on each occasion, our infrastructure sustained little to no damage. This speaks to the durability and redundancy of the FiberLight network and the effectiveness of our Severe Weather Preparedness Plan.
Extreme weather events remind us of the awesome force of Mother nature. They inspire fear and awe in all who encounter them. While we may not be able to protect all of the people in the storm’s path, you can take comfort in knowing that FiberLight will make sure that our customers have the ability to maintain critical internet connectivity. While people in the storm’s path are stocking up on batteries and bottled water, FiberLight will be busy reviewing our planning protocols and doing everything within our power to ensure network continuity.