Fiber Monitoring for Transportation and Highway Networks

Posted by Kevin Miller on Tue, Apr 25, 2023 @ 10:04 AM

The transportation and highway infrastructure is critical to the flow of goods, people, and resources throughout the country.  As we learned during the pandemic, transportation was the lynchpin to delivering goods to stores, homes, or people in need.

The US freight rail network is over 140,000 route miles and a nearly $80 Billion industry.  The freight railroads are owned by private organizations planning to invest billions of dollars in maintenance and improvements. Similarly significant, the US interstate system is 46,876 miles long and relied on by millions daily for getting from one place to another. 

Fiber Optic Transportation Network

How Fiber Helps Manage the Transportation Network

The introduction of fiber and high-speed data has made the maintenance and monitoring of these networks less complex.  The addition of traffic cameras and enabling real-time switching of network devices has made it easier for departments of transportation to understand traffic flow better and quickly adapt to any unexpected incidents or events. 

The fiber network has quickly become essential to ensure seamless operations. For example, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) will be installing $80M in underground fiber optic cable to help prevent train collisions. Like the transportation infrastructure, the fiber network must be monitored and maintained to ensure reliability. 

Transportation Fiber Network Issues

The era of cybersecurity has introduced new threats to fiber optic networks. Besides simply monitoring for accidental fiber breaks that occur regularly in all types of networks, transportation fiber infrastructure must be monitored continuously to ensure operations and communications are secure and resilient against tampering or hacking.  Whether accidental or intentional, various issues can damage the fiber network, severing or interrupting communications and requiring repairs. With these networks providing essential capabilities, such as the collision avoidance mentioned above or other critical traffic system communications, the challenge is getting the repair crew to the right place as quickly as possible to diagnose and begin repairs.

Without the proper monitoring technology and equipment installed, simply locating a break in a fiber network can often take at least 4-6 hours. Depending on the network environment and accessibility, this means 4-6 hours of inoperable or degraded connectivity, negatively impacting the organization’s ability to communicate, manage, and adjust to what may be happening on the highway or rails. While there may be backup networks that can be activated or other devices to switch to, changing to backup systems can take extra time or be rendered entirely ineffective if those also transmit data over other broken or damaged fibers in the same cable.

Without an advanced fiber monitoring system, the effort required to locate one or more fiber breaks is not only time-consuming but also resource-intensive, often requiring multiple truck rolls and people. The cost of leveraging these valuable resources typically starts in the hundreds of dollars but often reaches thousands of dollars very quickly, especially as the hours of downtime continue to add up.

Monitor Critical Fiber Links with M2 Optics

M2 Optics delivers an all-in-one, integrated fiber monitoring system that uses less rack space and can be deployed rapidly while significantly lowering hardware costs. Network administrators are notified immediately when a physical fiber issue like an accidental break or malicious tampering event occurs. The fault location is identified so service teams can be sent directly to the event and begin restoration.

Dark and Lit Fiber Monitoring System

This valuable fiber monitoring system provides several necessary capabilities to DOT network operators:

  • Monitors up to 64 fibers in just 1RU
  • Instantly detects and locates fiber breaks, tampering, and intrusions
  • Works for both dark fibers and lit fibers up to a 160km distance
  • Maximum efficiency - OTDR, 1xN switch, and software in a single integrated device

This system helps to deliver peace of mind that any breaks or intrusions, accidental or otherwise, are quickly detected while service crews are deployed to the exact location to initiate the repairs, saving significant time, money, and resources while minimizing downtime. It also provides an extra layer of cybersecurity support when malicious events have risen globally, especially since transportation networks are critical for a society and economy to function successfully. 

Safe, reliable transportation of goods and people drives commerce in the country.  Disruptions can have dramatic, even tragic, consequences.  Partnering with M2 Optics, transportation managers can focus on facilitating the seamless flow of people and products across the web of transportation pathways by maintaining the performance and integrity of their fiber infrastructure.

Learn More - Fiber Monitoring Systems for Transportation Networks

Topics: fiber monitoring, cybersecurity, transportation network