The dangerous, broken utility pole on Merrick Avenue has
been removed after seven months of making futile calls to LIPA and Verizon and
of getting in touch with government officials. This unwarranted delay put lives
in danger, the inappropriate attitudes of some Merrick residents not
I had made this situation known on an engineering blog via
LinkedIn. Much commentary was received in reply. One very striking reply from a
reader in South Africa. It casts some doubt on what kind of nation we in the
United States have become where this kind of public danger can be allowed to
continue for so long.
Please read the following:
am saddened by the lack of response in a first world country and at the same
time glad I am not alone in such problems.
My case is not quite so drastic; the pole in question is at the bottom of my
neighbour’s garden and serves to distribute telephone services to 3
surrounding houses. This network runs across poles in the gardens and
eventually terminates at a street connection box some distance away. My
neighbour’s pole has been broken for as long as I have occupied my home and
only stays aloft because it leans on the garden wall under tension of the
telephone wires and a 10mm earth conductor strung across the very top of the
poles. With the pole leaning, the wires droop into the shrubs and bushes
between this pole and the next and have been there so long that the shrubs
have overgrown the wires adding extra tension.
While they were used only for telephone voice communication the annoying buzz
on the line was only a nuisance. Dial up internet when introduced was also
adequate and later my first ADSL at 256kb/s was fairly good. Recently my
service provider provided a free upgrade to 2Mb/s and since then life on the
internet has been miserable. Somewhere along the line from my home to the
street box there is a high resistance contact and I suspect the pairs have
been crossed so we are operating with little or no common mode rejection.
There is a further problem somewhere between the street box and exchange that
causes further problems with which I predict the weather.
Storms in Johannesburg, South Africa can be quite violent (heavy torrential
rain, hail and thunderstorms – 2nd highest ground stroke lightning density in
the world for a populated area), so if a storm is approaching from the North
West (the direction the telephone lines run) I have a 3 minute early warning
because all internet communication slows and eventually stops as the cable
connection get wet. If the storm approaches from the opposite direction I get
full service until the storm is overhead, when communication also stops as
the local terminals get wet. If I interrogate my router I can watch the bit
rate dropping, SNR margin dropping and CRC errors increasing until eventually
after a few minutes my IP address disappears and all communication stops.
When the storm has passed and the terminals dry out everything restores
itself back to normal. We take the telephone off the hook (all the phones in
the house) to hook the line so line current is drawn, this helps to speed up
the drying process, so no one can ever get me by calling on the land line.
I have consistently reported this every month for the last year or so and had
multiple visits from numerous telephone technicians who all finally agree
that the cause of the trouble is the telephone pole that needs replacing and
an old six-pair cable that needs replacing that has been installed for at
least 30 years (they haven’t used 6 pair cable for at least 20 years). The other
problem is somewhere in an underground cable connection or terminal box, but
hey have no idea where.
Telkom who supply network services n South Africa are a Government owned
company with a monopoly. My chances of getting this put right is about nil, but
it is what we expect in a third world country.
By Roy Plant
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