A microwave mix-up nukes the network

The IT team goes straight to the top for answers when the company's microwave point-to-multipoint system quits working

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One of the guys from the radio shop traveled with me. We arrived at the first site with the tower where the base station was located. After restarting the base unit, things were no better. We could get into it now but still had problems with all sites. We tried switching to the failover unit already mounted on the tower, but that didn't work any better.

After an hour, we put the primary unit back in service and headed to the second site, assuming the subscriber unit at that location had failed so badly it was affecting all the others. We'd probably have to replace it and re-align the new one.

Our branch office at the second site was located in a corner of a small strip mall. We pulled into the parking lot and looked up at the roof, where we saw a couple of people's heads bobbing up and down. "What's up with that?" we asked each other.

We found the access door unlocked, which was unusual, and climbed the ladder to the roof. There we discovered a crew with buckets of hot tar, mops, and rolls of roofing material in the process of replacing the entire roof covering on the strip mall.

They had taken our microwave unit, which was mounted on a post attached to a square base frame and anchored with cinder blocks, and moved it eight feet out of their way in order to work on the roof under it. But instead of pointing it in the same direction as before or off to nowhere to the east, they had managed to point it directly at the farthest building in our group of four offices -- thus, blasting it with interference, disrupting the other three sites, and completely breaking the connection for this building.

The roofers said they could have our unit back in place by the middle of the afternoon, so we grabbed lunch, took our time getting back, and watched them return the unit to its original location about 20 minutes later. From there it was a quick job to fine-tune the alignment and verify that all sites were up and running again.

There is another side to all the nagging we get from people asking when things will be fixed: When the technology is working again, people can be grateful. We were hailed as heroes, and in the end, people even got a laugh out of the situation -- until the next time anyway.

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