Late in the evening on 1 December, a flashy thunderstorm passed over the Cove. Not unusual. We get several such storms every summer. But at about 11 PM that night, our Internet connection disappeared. The almost new, white, NBN box on our wall started flashing an angry red.
First thing the next morning we contacted our network provider to lodge a fault. "It's an NBN issue" we were told, and the earliest an NBN technician could come was more than a week away. What? No Internet or landline for nine days! That is a calamity. Thank goodness we had already finished watching The Queen's Gambit.
We thought this equipment failure was a problem isolated to us. But no! There were many others in the Cove with the same problem. We've since heard that many people in Medowie also had this problem and that this was probably also the case for other local villages. Why? Those white NBN boxes, it seems, are highly susceptible to damage during electrical storms.There were so many faults generated in this region that NBN technicians had to be summoned from Sydney to assist with the workload. In our throw-away culture, the solution is: "replace the white box".
Next time we hear that a big storm is heading our way, we will try to get to our new white box before it does. We will be unplugging not just the power but the other two cables as well. We don't want to struggle through another nine days of unconnectedness!
The damage caused to the white box was probably attributable to lightning-induced current in the copper cable that links us to optical fibre in the roadside pit. There would have been a potential difference created between the electrical earth at the pit and the earth at the house. The current will take the easiest path to earth and if that happens to be through electronic equipment then damage will almost certainly occur. (That path could be at the house end, as happened in our case, or in the pit where there is an electronic device that links the fibre to the copper.)