> In Feb 1975 there was a very bad fire in a big Central Office building
> in New York City. Twelve local exchanges and numerous tandem switches
> were knocked out.
> The Bell System mobilized and worked around the clock to get service
> restored. Some burnt panel switchgear was removed and replaced with
> new ESS switches airlifted in. Other gear was cleaned one contact at
> a time with Q-Tips. Some calls were rerouted to other offices.
> Service was restored quickly and known as the "Miracle on Second
> I wonder: Suppose a fire like that happened today: Would it take
> longer or shorter to restore service in today's world?
> ... big snip ...
> But in the case of Hinsdale at least, telco said at the time and still
> insists even today that it is not 'cost effective' for them to take
> steps in advance to mitigate their losses when these things
> happen. So, they do nothing about it, and deal with it when it
> happens. So, the difference between February, 1975 and February, 1965
> was ten years; May, 1988 was another thirteen years. Add twelve years
> for the cable fire in St. Louis in January, 1990, and about fifteen
> years for New Orleans and Katrina; although both New Orleans and St.
> Louis were not really anything telco could do 'much about'. So Lisa,
> it is not a question of 'if it happens again' so much as it is a
> question of 'when it happens again' as it will, I am sure, given the
> facts of life these days, with 'terrorists' all around us and your
> heroine, Ma Bell telling us she will deal with it if it happens, but
> it is not 'cost-effective' to worry about it before that time. She
To be honest it's a complicated equation. If the CLECs stock too many
spare switches, they'll be less likely to buy new ones with new
features and we'll be back in a situation like the 50s and 60s where
the plans where based on 30 year life spans. After all the financial
markets would complain they are wasting money on non-productive
Plus when I've read about the entire life cycle of some of these
outages, the major time line was reconnecting the wiring for 100,000s
of wire pairs. In NYC, wasn't the switch on the 35th floor or some
such? So the cables had to go up a wire chase and then into equipment
rooms on these floors. Now there's a limit to how fast techs can
re-connect pairs and/or string new pairs. And in these buildings
there's a physical space limit as to how many bodies you can get in to
work on things at any one time.
And since I'm convinced people would complain bitterly about their
phone bill if it was only $1 a month, imagine trying to get folks to
pay more for this redundancy.
[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: How about something a lot more simple?
_Do not ever_ leave a central office unattended, anytime, anywhere. Even
in an office which is 'usually' deserted on weekends, etc you schedule
at least one worker to be there nights and weekends. Give that person
something to do -- for example data entry work -- and have them go
around once an hour more or less checking all the nooks and crannies
where problems could develop. In the case of Hinsdale, Ameritech could
have had one or two people on their payroll for several years mainly
as watchdogs and still come out ahead of what the 1988 fire cost them.
> If there were a severe fire, flood, etc. to an ILEC's central office
> switch or building these days, I would think that the ILEC might also
> offer temporary cellular service to affected customers in those cases
> as well. And of course, there are always going to be those customers
> who don't even have (ILEC) landline phone service anymore, and have
> strictly cellular service.
Typically much of the re-routing would occur in the dead switch which
doesn't help much.
Also much of the ILEC service to businesses is T1/BR1 service where
the internet is also involved. And the office where we just switch to
an ILEC for both voice and internet is more and more dependent on
email than voice.