Yesterday morning I woke to find I had no internet connection! I'll spare you the details of what happened next, but, in short it took 28 hours for it to come back; 24 waiting for an engineer to visit and then 4 for him to fix it. Those 28 hours gave me time to think about how I could prevent it happening again.
I don't want to come across like I'm caught up in my own self-importance, but it's important I have a reliable and "constant" connection. Outages of >24 hours just aren't acceptable -- either for me or my customers, who pay me to support their systems. Without a connection to the internet I'd struggle to offer support. Not to mention I'd be unable to work and earn money (to a degree).
As a temporary measure I got by using 3G. Both on my phone and with the data SIM in my newly-acquired Tablet. This was good enough for emailing and general browsing but not for use in my day-to-day work.
On Twitter I did my usual moaning and in reply @mattwhite mentioned he'd got both a BT ADSL line as well as Virgin's cable broadband service, because he too just has to have a connection.
The cost of having a redundant broadband connection is insignificant when compared to the cost of having no connection at all. Not just in terms of lost earnings but also the cost of a damaged reputation ("That Rockall Design company can't even stay connected to the internet!").
While I was waiting for the BT engineer to "fix the fibre" I went ahead and ordered a new connection to Virgin Media's cable-based internet service.
Over the last few months I've been block-paving all around the house. We've had 3 or 4 lorries back down the road and offload tonnes of hardcore using a crane which came within inches of the overhead copper BT phoneline, while I stood looking on nervously.
As Virgin's cable is buried underground, right up to the house, it can't be brought down by acts of God/stupidity like the BT line could.
It always scares me to think how fragile my connection to the net is. The other week I walked past our nearest "exchange" box (those green boxes you see around on street corners) and the door to it was flapping open exposing all the cables within. All it would take is a mindless act of vandalism to take the whole neighbourhood down.
My router allows for two WAN connections and offers automatic failover (I think). In theory it will failover to this new backup connection without me needing to do anything.
Is there still a single point of failure? Is there anything that could bring both connections down at once? As I understand it each line will leave the house and go to separate boxes (owned and managed in turn by the two separate companies).