Originally published on the Pacific Telecommunications Council blog on August 13, 2020.
Now more than ever, it’s paramount that our connected world remains so. NJFX is handling the pandemic with the team’s usual forward-thinking approach. As a Tier 3 Cable Landing Station colocation campus with four subsea cable systems and nine terrestrial backhaul providers, NJFX is a designated critical infrastructure site. As such, our team is always prepared and ready with emergency response plans to address hurricanes, terrorist attacks, or even widespread power outages. A global pandemic, however, wasn’t part of that equation. The pandemic is certainly unique, unchartered territory and caused organizations globally to rethink standard operating procedures and exhaust spare inventory network capacity. Now, we continue to face supply chain issues as we prepare for the fall and a potential second wave or other unforeseen natural or man-made disaster.
There can be challenges in our ability to reach traditional network hubs in major U.S. cities, especially when considering having to use public transportation and elevators in high-rise buildings, which can go against current safety protocols. In addition, global social unrest continues to be aimed in these cities with the highest risk for additional virus outbreaks and potential violence. Our industry workforce component of essential employees has endured these challenges and will continue to do so. Still to come, challenges of returning to work while children may be continuing to engage in virtual learning for the new school year. In the U.S., as we continue down the path of subsea systems going on 20 years, we will soon be left with only four systems less than 10 years old this year, and one of those is in financial distress. In the U.S., our main East Coast fiber routes were all built about 20 years ago and have too much commonality, which allows for failures to potentially happen simultaneously. Combine that with an essential workforce that is stressed, and this could lead to unpredictable outage times.
Collaboration is needed for restoration on upcoming events and long-term investments to ensure this age of network interconnection can provide 100 percent uptime. In our current information age of instantaneous awareness through social media, every minute counts for us to know what’s happening.
At NJFX, we are fortunate with our suburban environment in a two-story building that was designed for contactless access. We now have more physical fiber count cables and capacity per cable than any other network hub in the U.S. Our role is vital. We built the facility as “Tier 3 by the Subsea,” but in this unpredictable world, the fear about the unknown continues and our team is focused on making sure we, along with our customers, are all prepared.
In this challenging time, the industry has had to either find ways to adapt to this very fluid situation or risk many unknowns related to both the physical health of our employees and the economic health of our businesses. This situation has forced organizations to rethink the status quo, be flexible, and not take normal operating procedures for granted.
What we have learned is that our industry is very resilient, robust, and able to rise to the challenge. The Internet did not break, it’s what has kept us together, connected, and relatively stable. As long as our collective focus remains on solving unique challenges and working together, we will continue in the spirit of what sets us apart. We’re ready and dedicated to ensuring our customers, employees, and vendors are prepared and safe. Together, we will not only deliver what our ecosystem has come to expect from us, but we will work to offer even greater capacity, connectivity, and opportunities than ever before.