Google's bullet-attracting fibre problems

Network engineers know that there are lots of things that can take down a connection - including, it seems, bored hunters.

Such is the life of Google's Oregon-based network engineers, who apparently have to regularly repair fibre connections to the data centre owing to bored hunters taking pot-shots at the cables.

Speaking to the AusNOG network operators' conference in Sydney, Google's network engineering manager Vijay Gill is quoted over on as saying that "what people do for sport or because they're bored, they try to shoot at the insulators. I've yet to see them actually hit the insulator, but they regularly shoot down the fibre."

The problem is so common that Gill says it's become an expected occurrence, with engineers being dispatched on a tracked Caterpillar D9 or a helicopter or on one memorable occasion, with the weather being so inclement as to prevent the more usual modes of transportation from reaching the site, on skis in a three-day cross-country trek to repair the breaks.

"Every November, when hunting seasons starts, invariably we know that the fibre will be shot down - so much so that we are now building an underground path" which Gill hopes will keep the precious cables out of the way of harm - and bored gun-toting hunters.

Wondering aloud if the hunters would ever get bored enough to take a pop at the all-weather network engineers, Gill joked, "The Internet is more dangerous than you realise."