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Elyria Chronicle Telegram Newspaper Archives Mar 30 2015, Page 5

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Elyria Chronicle Telegram (Newspaper) - March 30, 2015, Elyria, Ohio David A. Lieb The Associated Press Hunter Newby describes himself as a real estate entrepreneur, even if he’s not marketing houses or land. Instead, he’s selling space on a new fiber- optic transmission line to Internet providers, telecommunications companies and anyone wanting high- speed data. Newby is chief executive of Allied Fiber, a New York firm that is nearing completion of a broadband route from Miami to Atlanta. His long- range vision is to build a new fiberoptic loop around the entire U. S. that is physically distinct from existing Internet routes but connects to them. Newby’s network is just one of the potential solutions to what experts describe as a lack of redundancy that makes the nation’s high- speed Internet highway vulnerable to outages if a fiber- optic cable gets cut or a key connection site gets damaged. That is particularly true in rural areas and smaller cities. How many broadband lines have backup systems is unclear because the industry has been largely unregulated and Internet providers will not divulge details about their networks. Newby said the Internet “ has numerous single points of failure all over the place.” His goal, he said, “ is to create physical diversity” around those spots. One of those weak points was exposed last month when vandals sliced a fiber- optic cable in the Arizona desert between Phoenix and Flagstaff, leaving some people and businesses without Internet service for up to 15 hours. There was no backup system. Industry analysts say there are several ways around such problems: ¡ Companies can build a second fiber- optic transmission line between cities, allowing Internet traffic to be rerouted when one line goes down. But that could double the cost of extending service into a particular area. ¡ Networks can be designed with switches that reroute traffic along other existing routes. In one hypothetical scenario, Internet traffic from Phoenix could follow a detour to Los Angeles and Las Vegas to get to Flagstaff. But those alternative paths would need enough capacity to handle the load. ¡ A satellite or microwave system can be installed to serve as a backup to a fiber- optic cable between two places. But the service could be slower and a relatively expensive insurance policy. Felicia Fonseca and David A. Lieb The Associated Press FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — When vandals sliced a fiber- optic cable in the Arizona desert last month, they did more than time- warp thousands of people back to an era before computers, credit cards or even phones. They exposed a glaring vulnerability in the nation’s Internet infrastructure: no backup systems in many places. Because Internet service is largely unregulated by the federal government and the states, decisions about network reliability are left to the service providers. Industry analysts say these companies generally do not build alternative routes, or redundancies, unless they believe it is worthwhile financially. The result: While most major metropolitan areas in the U. S. have backup systems, some smaller cities and many rural areas do not. “ The more rural the location, the more likely that there’s only one road in and out of that location,” said Sean Donelan, a former infrastructure security manager in the U. S. Homeland Security Department who now works for a cybersecurity firm. “ If someone manages to cut that fiber, you’ll generally see a one- or two- or three- day outage.” Despite its own warnings about such vulnerabilities two decades ago, the federal government has taken no steps to require Internet companies to have backup systems, even as it has provided billions of dollars in subsidies to expand broadband Internet into unserved areas. “ Our first responsibility is to make sure that people actually have service,” said Agriculture Secretary TomVilsack, co- chairman of President Barack Obama’s newly created Broadband Opportunity Council. In northern Arizona last month, tens of thousands of residents were without Internet service — some for up to 15 hours — after vandals cut through an underground bundle of fiber- optic cables owned by CenturyLink. ATMs went down, stores couldn’t process credit cards, college students in Flagstaff had to put their research on hold, and even 911 emergency service was lost. Earlier this month, several thousand people lost Internet and phone service for half a day when an electric company crew accidentally cut a fiber- optic line in northern New Mexico. When an underwater fiberoptic cable became wrapped around a big rock and broke in 2013, some residents of Washington state’s San Juan Islands were without Internet and telephone service for 10 days. Among them was aerospace consultant Mike Loucks, who said he was shocked to find out his home phone, cellphone and Internet service did not work independently of each other. All went down because they relied on the same cable. He ended up taking a ferry to the mainland to dial in to conference calls from his car outside a McDonald’s. “ When I figured out what all had been routed to this cable, it’s a single- point failure thing,” he said. “ That’s pretty dumb. Why don’t you guys have a backup cable?” CenturyLink, the broadband provider in the Arizona and Washington outages, declined to make officials available for an interview about its Internet infrastructure. But spokeswoman Linda Johnson said in an email that the company acts quickly to restore service and “ is constantly investing in its local network and strives to deliver new services and build redundancy where possible.” After the San Juan Islands outage, CenturyLink spent $ 500,000 to install a microwave system that now backs up the underwater cable. A microwave system relies on a series of aboveground antennas or towers to transmit data. Tina Susman Los Angeles Times WINDSOR, N. Y.— From this village of dairy farms and friendly diners, Carolyn Price can see across the state line into Pennsylvania, and it is a bittersweet view. The rolling hills a few miles away are as green as the ones here, and the Susquehanna River is icy and beautiful on both sides of the state line as it meanders toward the Atlantic. Price sees something else, though: towns brimming with money extracted from the gasrich Marcellus shale, where the high- pressure drilling method known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has spurred an economic boom. It is a different story here on the New York side, where Gov. Andrew Cuomo in December declared a statewide ban on fracking — one of only two in the country — saying he was not convinced it is safe. The national debate over fracking, which critics say can pollute groundwater and endanger public health, heated up last week when the Obama administration announced the first- ever federal regulations on the practice. But nowhere is fracking as heated an issue as in the stretch of New York known as the southern tier, where Cuomo’s ban has spurred talk of secession. Political leaders like Price, Windsor’s town supervisor, say secession is not such a farfetched idea, and they are gathering feedback from constituents to see whether there is support for a breakaway movement. “ I think it really has to be looked at seriously,” said Price, who has watched her town of 6,200 wither as locals move away in search of jobs. “ We only need to drive a few miles, and we can see ourselves.” She nods toward Pennsylvania, where once- depressed towns now boast bustling businesses catering to workers from companies like Chesapeake Energy, Houston- based Cabot Oil and Gas, and EOG Resources, which used to be part of Enron. “ The natural gas is the only thing that’s truly going to save this area,” Price said. Windsor is one of about 15 towns in New York’s southern tier where secession is being eyed, if not as an attainable goal than as a radical proposal aimed at grabbing state lawmakers’ attention and forcing them to take notice of the region’s desperation. For years, the state has vowed to create economic opportunities in the southern tier, once home to factories that produced everything from cigars to computers. For years, though, nothing has turned around a decline that is evident in the shuttered businesses and “ for sale” signs dotting the rural landscape. Broome County, which includes Windsor, is the southern tier’s most populous county. Its biggest city and the county seat, Binghamton, had 80,000 residents in 1950. Today, it is home to 47,000 people. The fracking ban came on the same day that the state rejected the area’s bid for two casinos, exacerbating locals’ despair. Marcellus riches The Marcellus shale covers about 104,000 square miles, from NewYork south to parts of West Virginia and Ohio, and it is believed to be the largest source of natural gas in the United States. Energy companies have been drilling into it and other U. S. shale for decades. Only in recent years have technological advances enabled them to reach previously inaccessible deposits by blasting water, sand and chemicals into the earth to create new cracks. Energy companies say hydraulic fracturing is no more hazardous than many traditional extraction techniques when proper precautions are taken. Critics say the technique brings a host of health and environmental problems, including seepage of chemicals into groundwater and earthquakes in areas where rock is being fractured. In drought- prone areas such as California, questions have been raised about the millions of gallons of water needed in fracking when residents face rationing. Nonetheless, only Vermont and New York have banned fracking. Cuomo’s ban came after years of study by the state’s Department of Health, which cited “ critical information gaps” in potential hazards of fracking. “ I have asked myself, ‘ Would I let my family live in a community with fracking?’ ” Howard Zucker, the department’s acting commissioner, said as he presented the results of a 184- page report to state lawmakers on Dec. 17. “ The answer is no. I therefore cannot recommend anyone else’s family to live in such a community either.” Cuomo cited the study when he announced the fracking ban. “ I’m not going to put the health at risk for jobs,” he said. “ I’m not going to make that choice. I’m not going to make it in the southern tier. I’m not going to make it anywhere in the state.” Within days, Jim Finch, the town supervisor of Conklin, about 15 miles from Windsor, had begun mentioning secession as an option. At first, the idea was seen as a joke, but the distress among locals who had counted on natural gas to revive their communities was serious. “ The southern tier is desolate,” Finch told Binghamton’s WBNG- TV last month, even as he conceded that the chances of secession were remote. Still, state Sen. Thomas Libous, a Republican who represents the region, has been asking constituents their views on secession in an online survey. The Upstate NewYork Towns Association, which represents southern tier communities and is headed by Price, plans to review results from Libous’ survey once they’re tabulated and decide what to do next. The organization was formed in July 2013 in response to what regional leaders say is the state’s tendency to make decisions that favor New York City and other so- called downstate areas. Chief among those decisions has been the fracking ban, Price said. Local disappointment was sharpened by the knowledge that friends living a few miles away in Pennsylvania are thriving since energy companies began fracking there. “ It’s hard for them to accept that the line on the map makes such a huge difference,” said Price, adding that New York’s taxes, which are higher than Pennsylvania’s, add to residents’ ire. Frustration in tier The crowd at Kennedy’s Diner one recent lunch hour reflected the local frustration. As they devoured bowls of soup, heaping sandwiches and plates piled high with cheesecovered French fries, customers said they doubted anyone in the state capital would take seriously the secession threat. At the same time, they said they saw few economic options other than fracking, even if it carried some risk. “ My roots are here, but I see how people are struggling, and it’s just so depressing,” said Lisa Hayes, who hoped to lease 40 acres she owns to energy companies. Instead, she is moving to Florida in hopes of finding work as a medical assistant. Her father- in- law, Donald Hayes, is a local tax preparer who has seen first- hand his neighbors’ financial struggles. He echoed others in the diner who said they believed the fracking ban was rooted more in politics than in safety concerns. Cuomo, a Democrat, has his eye on the White House and does not want to anger liberals, Hayes said. At another table, farmers Bill and Lisa Titus said they had not seen evidence of fracking’s dangers to support the ban. It’s better to save local economies than leave them to die, they said. Dan Burdick, a local businessman eating lunch with them, agreed. “ Stuff happens.” The Chronicle- Telegram Monday, March 30, 2015 A5 NATION ENTER TO WIN!!! ENTER TO WIN!!! ENTER TO WIN!!! ENTER TO WIN!!! “ I WANT PIZZA HUT FOR LUNCH!” Enter your office or place of business to win lunch from Pizza Hut, “ Gold Country” WOBL & “ Kool Kat Oldies” WDLW. We would like to treat up to 16 people… and there. s nothing to buy! Have it delivered or visit your nearest Pizza Hut Restaurant! Just write “ I want Pizza Hut for Lunch” on your company letterhead and send it in! It. s so easy! By Fax: 440- 774- 1336 By Mail: WOBL/ WDLW, Attn: Pizza, P. O. Box 277, Oberlin, OH 44074 SOLUTION UNDER: EXERCISE EQUIPMENT Fractured communities NY town looks with envy as Pa. neighbors prosper thanks to ‘ fracking’ TNS PHOTOS Carolyn Price, center, town supervisor of Windsor, N. Y., listens as a resident at Kennedy's Diner discusses the state fracking ban's effect on the local economy. A capped natural gas well appears in the foreground, while, in the distance, another well is being drilled near Harford, Pa. Fracking, which is permitted in Pennsylvania, has ignited an economic boom in towns there. “ It’s hard for them to accept that the line on the map makes such a huge difference” Caroline Price U. S. Internet vulnerable to interruptions Lack of redundancy can lead Solutions exist, but at a price to lengthy service disruption

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