Geek Trivia

Armenians Experienced An Internet Blackout In 2011 Thanks To What?

Solar Flares
Whale Mating Rituals
A Copper Scavenger
Indian Nuclear Testing
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Answer: A Copper Scavenger

In 2011, almost the entire country of Armenia was plunged into an internet blackout. While such total network disruptions are generally the province of brutal regimes or powerful natural events like solar flares, in this case it was something much smaller and more surprising.

In the neighboring country of Georgia, an elderly copper scavenger had been digging for copper scrap to sell. By some twist of fate, she managed to plunge her spade directly through a fiber optic cable that was unusually close to the surface due to erosion caused by recent heavy rainfall. That single fiber optical cable was responsible for servicing over 90% of Armenia with internet and other telecommunication service.

Although the damaged cable was quickly cleaned, re-spliced, and returned to service, the event certainly highlights the danger of having a single point of failure in critical infrastructure.

Image by BigRiz.