Case Study: Team Blackfoot

Mary Worden, Director of Operations

Aaron Wade, Lead IT Tech 2

Brenda Woodside, Operations Support Manager

Deanna Jenness, IT Services Admin

Jared Jarrett, OSP Engineering Manager

What happens when Blackfoot fiber goes down on a wintery New Year's Day?

Blackfoot's fiber ran across a pipeline in Thompson Falls. The pipeline broke, causing the fiber to bend and drop into the river, immediately putting Thompson Falls out of service. Blackfoot's on-call technicians came together to locate the severed fiber and resolve the problem to restore internet connectivity. Did we mention it was New Year's Day? Watch below for the full story.

One thing that’s unique with Blackfoot and Montana is that we live in an area surrounded by mountains, lakes, rivers, railroads, interstates, highways and more - all of which create a challenge to get fiber from Missoula out to our rural communities.

In Thompson Falls, Blackfoot has 1,000 feet of fiber that runs across a pipeline that is no longer in use. Over the years, the wind made the pipeline sway which loosened and broke some of the brackets that fastened on Blackfoot's fiber. This caused the fiber to bend and drop into the river, immediately putting Thompson Falls out of service.

Blackfoot received notifications of the outage from network monitoring in place. On-call technicians responded and worked together to figure out and solve the problem. In this case, Blackfoot's fiber crew literally had to put feet on the ground and find where the fiber was severed.

The challenge with these kinds of outages is that Blackfoot can see that there’s an outage, but only approximately where it’s at. Most times, a team has to go out to find the location and exact cause of the outage.

"I think one of the things in an outage like this that’s remarkable to me is the people that we have working for us who step up," said Mary Worden, Director of Operations. "And even on a New Year’s Day, the people that come into work to fix those type things where maybe we do have a piece of fiber that fell off of a bridge, across a river, in the freezing cold. It’s pretty amazing the people that just come into work ... to get it done for our customers."

"I think one of the things in an outage like this that’s remarkable to me is the people that we have working for us who step up. And even on a New Year’s Day ... where we have a piece of fiber that fell off of a bridge, across a river, in the freezing cold ... they work together to get it done for our customers."

Mary Worden
Director of Operations

Ready to connect?

Get in touch today to partner with the region's leading business communications provider.