February 24, 2023

iFiber Service Maintained During Ice Storm Power Outage

An unknown animal chewed this hole through an iFiber core site’s generator cooling system cap.

FEBRUARY 2023 – iFiber’s commitment to maintaining its core sites passed a major test during the ice storm that crippled much of northwestern Illinois Feb. 22-23.

A power outage affected Eastland Middle School, site of the iFiber broadband network’s core distribution site in the Shannon region. When the site lost power, it went onto battery back-up as it is designed to do. But when the generator failed to start as expected, Eric Haan, District Technology Director for Eastland CUSD #308, knew there was a critical issue. Upon investigation and assisted by John Prowant, Director of Operations, Haan discovered an animal had gnawed a hole through the cooling system’s generator cap (see photo).

Eric Haan

As President of iFiber’s Board of Directors in addition to his IT Director role, Haan was keenly aware of the urgency of the situation. He and Prowant braved the treacherous weather conditions by locating a replacement cap and coolant at a local diesel repair store. Once installed, the generator was immediately back up and running ensuring no major outages in fiber-broadband service for the iFiber network.

The core site situation was made that much more urgent because Shannon site’s equipment was on its last legs battery-wise, according to projected battery ride time. Haan had the generator operating just as the lights on the equipment were starting to dim.

Other iFiber team members worked behind the scenes to ensure network services would not be interrupted for iFiber customers.

Marc Thorson, who oversees iFiber operations as Executive Director of Regional Technology Services, NIU Division of Information Technology, arranged for a mobile generator if it was needed. Jen Uridil-Dolman, Project Manager and Damage Assessor for NIU/iFiber Broadband, provided information on the battery life and records of the preventative maintenance done. Joe Trickey, Sales Engineer and Project Manager, provided technical information on the generator and site electrical options. He also ensured the details were covered for all contingency options to make sure nothing was overlooked.

iFiber (Illinois Fiber Resources Group, not-for-profit) continually works to provide the best possible platform for its Community Anchor Institutions and Service Provider Partners. Since its inception in 2011, iFiber has completed several upgrades of its core network backbone devices.

iFiber has five core sites which ensure redundancy in service. iFiber’s ring architecture design provides a redundant route out of regional sites through ring protection with its Core and Distribution network. In the event of a fiber cut in one location along one of its major routes, iFiber will continue to provide services through its Core and Distribution network.

iFiber is proud to continue offering an open-access fiber option to serve communities working with our service provider partners. iFiber is dedicated to its commitment to meeting ever-changing communication needs now and into the future.

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