We need everyone in Gila County to help address the cause of recent outages, instead of incorrectly assigning blame, and only treating the symptoms. In a year or less, two additional fiber optic trunk cables coming into Payson will address some of these problems. Some does not mean all. Not by a long shot.

There are pictures online that illustrate the damage to the overhead conduit that the fiber optic cable is inside. These pictures were taken in the residential area of Strawberry in the failure location area of the Oct. 31 outage. The cause of this damage was due to residents feeding birds with birdseed that ended up on the ground, which attracted squirrels. The squirrels then became lazy, and look for something to sharpen their teeth on, choose the utility lines. This outage is the direct fault of those residents of Strawberry, who’s irresponsible and careless activities caused damage to CenturyLink’s fiber. There is a picture of a squirrel on the conduit, in that same neighborhood, during the Oct. 31 outage. And another image shows the unsuccessful attempt to repair the damaged fiber conduit. A replacement fiber optic cable could not be installed inside of the conduit. The picture also shows the correct industry standard emergency repair method of attaching a full-length replacement fiber optic cable to the underside of the fiber optic conduit performed by CenturyLink, and in record time I might add.

The two additional outages occurred because of new squirrel damage to that temporary fiber cable as residents have failed to stop feeding birds and squirrels.

Repair crews are not construction crews. Construction crews still need to replace the damaged fiber conduit, which also means permits are needed from various agencies. And we will pay for that replacement in increased rates.

People have suggested that CenturyLink should use armored fiber. Armored fiber is designed to reduce the potential of shovel damage when fiber is installed underground. Armored fiber is not designed to be rodent proof, and although it will tend to slow down some rodent damage, it is not the answer. Plus, inspections over the past 2.5 years have shown all squirrel-damaged fiber was located within residential areas, and not in the forest. So let’s get the truth out there and stop feeding wildlife, ending this problem once and for all.

I have been in the telecommunications industry since 1974 and it is time for of us to be responsible for what happens in our county.

Go online and click on this letter to see the photos.

Michael J. Day

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