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Lightning strike at BTC caused mystery Internet fluctuations

BTC's Dunlap office on Cherry Street took a lightning strike Tuesday that knocked out power, backup generators, and Internet service.

Sept. 8, 2017 – The Bledsoe Telephone Cooperative (BTC) Dunlap office took a direct lightning strike on Tuesday, Sept. 5, which caused an unexplained fluctuation in Internet service.

We took a direct lightning hit to the office,” BTC General Manager Charlie Boring said Friday. “It knocked our generators out. The power also went out. We have batteries designed to provide back-up for 15 to 20 minutes, but the generators would not crank.”

It turned out that the motherboard that controls the generators was knocked out by the power fluctuation.

When the power came back on,” Boring continued, “everything tried to load at one time. That created a loop in our data.”

This “loop” in the network overloaded the system, and caused variations in service to Internet customers.

It was causing interruptions to a select few,” Boring said. “It was sporadically hitting some customers. We couldn't figure that out.”

At a loss as to where the loop originated, BTC began taking people down and bringing them back up. About the second time through this process, they finally located the source of the overload.

We had people working diligently for hours,” Boring said.

Late Wednesday night a brief system-wide shutdown of about an hour to an hour-and-a-half was necessary to finish rebooting the network, and by around noon on Thursday, all service was restored.