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ISE Columnist Sharon Vollman, Editorial Director

Squirrel Stories

Sept. 1, 2018
One of our team members has been struggling with her home network. Pitiful performance due to latency and packet drops. The slow and unpredictable speeds are making her nuts. Since […]

One of our team members has been struggling with her home network. Pitiful performance due to latency and packet drops. The slow and unpredictable speeds are making her nuts. Since she works a great deal from home, and it was being a hindrance to her productivity, she called her service provider to help fix the problem.

A tech arrived and spent a fair amount of time inside the house checking cable quality and connections. He upgraded her modem and tested some more. No issues to be found inside. His next stop? The NID. Wouldn’t you know it? All was well there, too.

Soon after, he examined the aerial pole in the corner of her yard. It didn’t take long for him to find the gnawing problem. A squirrel had a veritable smorgasbord eating the cable.

I realize this problem is not unique. A few years ago, a large service provider estimated that 17% of their network problems were related to the aggressive nibbles of these little guys. Given how quickly squirrels multiply, and since the industry has yet to perfect a solution to the problem, I’m thinkin’ things may have worsened since then.

Figure 1.

Since hearing about my colleagues’ problems, these wicked little critters have been invading my world. I’ve received multiple emails from Animal Den telling me there are new squirrel toys available. (See Figure 1.) One particularly arrogant squirrel keeps climbing the tree in front of my home office, looks through the window, and watches me. While driving the other day, I stopped for one as it crossed the road, and several others followed; I think they assume I am a squirrel lover who wouldn’t dare hurt their friends and relatives.

Clearly, I’m struggling with squirrel preoccupation simply by hearing anecdotes about the squirrel problems you deal with in the field.

It’s crazy to think that you and your teams can make all kinds of technological magic occur across the wireline and wireless networks, yet these fuzzy little creatures are still a force to be reckoned with day in and day out. Do you ever feel like Bill Murray in the movie Caddy Shack — but chasing squirrels instead of a gopher?

Let’s get back at those wicked little network-nightmare makers, and have fun at their expense. Surely, you must have some good stories to share. Send them my way, and we’ll publish them in an upcoming issue. (And don’t forget the pictures of your archnemesis if you capture any.)

Cheers to squirrel payback! We’ll show them, and ourselves, that we can have a sense of humor about problems that can’t always be solved.

Email Sharon at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn for further conversation and insights.

About the Author

Sharon Vollman | Editor-in-Chief, ISE Magazine

Sharon Vollman is Editor-in-Chief of ISE Magazine. She oversees the strategic direction and content for ISE Magazine. She also leads the educational content development for ISE EXPO. Vollman has created educational partnerships with the major communications and entertainment providers including AT&T, Verizon, CenturyLink, Frontier Communications and Cincinnati Bell. She has covered the telecom industry since 1996. Prior to that, she worked in advertising with Ogilvy & Mather and CME. Vollman has a bachelor’s degree in Journalism/Advertising from the University of Iowa.