|It has been just over six months since Cyclone Vardah hit Chennai. Lakhs of trees and power posts went down, and along with it, the city’s broadband network.|
Fiber broadband networks were the worst hit and ACT Fibernet, one of the largest fiber broadband providers in the city, was impacted the most, with over 90 per cent network down. Subscribers suddenly found that their high-speed broadband was down for days - in some instances, even weeks. This resulted in a backlash in social media.
The gravity of the situation made the entire top brass of ACT Fibernet, including the CEO Bala Malladi, fly down and camp in the city for several weeks. The company decided to lay brand new cables for the entire network in the city - junking the old ones. To reduce disruptions due to other utilities damaging ACT’s cables, the company has installed over 1,000 of its own poles.
Talking to BusinessLine recently, Malladi said after months of hard work and with the entire network up and running ACT was now ready to look ahead.
It is one thing to have its own poles, but how is ACT Fibernet preparing for another cylcone, with almost the entire network running overhead on trees and poles?
ACT Fibernet has already shifted gear towards underground cabling and was awaiting approvals, Malladi said. It had planned to roll out a massive underground network - of over 1,500 km - at a cost of over Rs. 300 crore, he said.
Moreover, ACT Fibernet had planned a capital expenditure of around Rs. 500 crore for back-up plans to ensure 100 per cent redundancies (back-ups). It had also multiple redundancies even for upstream international bandwidth providers. “We have two service providers Airtel and Tata to deliver the upstream international bandwidth, each acting as a redundancy for the other,” he said. Even the data centres now have a backup. “We have ensured our Bangalore and Chennai operations are interlinked and distributed so that one acts as a back up for other.”
Malladi said ACT Fibernet had taken one more step - it had fortified its network by piggybacking on another network of a service provider that already had underground cabling.