If you’re suffering with a flaky internet connection that makes Zoom calls look like a dodgy stop-start animation, spare a thought for the residents of northwest British Colombia in Canada.
They were left without any internet connection for eight hours recently after a tree – that had been felled by a gnawing beaver – crashed to the ground bringing down overhead fibre cables and telephone wires.
When engineers turned up to repair the break, they found tell-tale teeth marks at the base of the tree that immediately pointed to the identity of the pesky varmint.
The beaver is not believed to have been harmed in the incident.
Beaver attacks aren’t the only cause of internet outages
CBC News reported that while wildlife-related outages do happen, they are rare. Last year, for example, 800 people were left stranded in Internet isolation after a beaver was blamed for chewing through telecoms wires in Canada.
If beaver-related Internet outages are rare in Canada, they’re non-existent in the UK, even though the aquatic rodents have been re-introduced to parts of the country after they were hunted to near extinction hundreds of years ago.
But net outages do occur.
Consumer group Which? recently reported that half of UK broadband customers have experienced a problem with their service provider in the last year, with issues ranging from slow speeds to frequent outages.
In a statement, Lisa Barber, Which? Computing Editor, said: “It is simply not good enough that broadband customers are still suffering frequent drop-outs, slow speeds and a generally poor internet service at a time when everyday life relies so heavily on a good connection.”
A strong digital network is a must
It’s a point mirrored in the recent Cisco Global Broadband Index 2022, which quizzed 60,000 workers across 30 different countries.
“With almost two thirds (61%) of workers relying on broadband connections in their daily lives, and nearly half (49%) suggesting their Internet usage will either stay the same or increase in the next year, a strong network is imperative,” said the report.
“With an eye on the future, nearly half (48%) of the workforce now relies on their home Internet to work from home or run their own business. With 59% of households sustaining three or more people online at any one time, and 84% of respondents around the world going online from home for at least four hours per day, universal and reliable access is crucial,” it said.
That sentiment was brought home to millions of people recently after a UK-wide national rail strike prompted many to avoid the daily commute and work from home instead. While not everyone escaped the travel disruption, for many people it’s clear that the flexibility of WFH means working life can continue without having to turn up in person to the office.
But such a shift in working patterns can only be truly successful if the telecoms and internet infrastructure is robust enough to support this. Or, at the very least, it needs to be tough enough to withstand any attack by beavers – or any other rodents, come to think of it.