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A Chilly Connection: Winter Weather’s Impact on OEC Fiber

Winter weather is around the corner. The picturesque image of snow and ice glittering on the hill is a wonderous sight. As beautiful as it can be, it brings various service issues. Outages, slow repairs and halting installs are common issues regarding the extreme weather impact on fiber services.

“If water gets into a closer or NID (Network Information Device), it can freeze up and break a fiber or splice,”  said Senior Manager of Outside Plant & Fiber Technicians, Joe Torres.

Have you ever put a full plastic water bottle in the freezer to find the top and bottom bulging later on? The same thing happens when ice forms in the connection between fiber strands. The moisture in the connection expands as it freezes. The resulting force can break bonds apart, causing an outage.

“We seal up closures and NIDs to prevent water coming in,” Torres said. “[This is] our biggest prevention [method] because it has the biggest effect on us.”

NIDs and closers are just one source of weather disruption. Ice accumulation on overhead lines and tree limbs poses a threat as well. The additional weight of the ice causes limbs to sag and eventually break, falling through and bringing down overhead lines.

Crews work around-the-clock to restore service when it goes down. Still, they often face challenges unique to the cold Oklahoma winter.

“When it’s super cold, fibers become more brittle, and it’s harder to splice,” Torres said.

Splicing fiber optic cables together is often the last step in bringing service to an area. Brittle fibers and the risk of moisture becoming trapped in a connection can slow the restoration of service or initial installation.

OEC Fiber considered these things in the construction of its network. They designed everything from sealing closers and NIDS to the investment of a splicing trailer to guard exposed fiber lines against the weather to have a more reliable network.

Fiber optic cables are built to keep your connection strong regardless of the weather. While outages will never be 100% avoidable, OEC Fiber does all it can to ensure you and your family stay connected during harsh winter weather.

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