AT&T: Defect Caused VRAD Explosion

Investigation concludes by pointing to a limited manufacturing defect from a defunct manufacturer

Phil Harvey, Editor-in-Chief

August 24, 2007

2 Min Read
AT&T: Defect Caused VRAD Explosion

AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) says it has concluded its investigation into what caused a broadband equipment cabinet to explode in suburban Houston last year. (See AT&T Investigates DSLAM Explosion and AT&T Still Digging on DBLAM!) The verdict: The whole shebang was caused by a manufacturing defect related to the cabinet's battery.

1516.jpgSome quick background: The VRAD (video ready access device) that went off last October was located in the 8200 block of Clover Gardens Drive, outside the home of an elderly couple. (See AT&T Eyes Batteries in Explosion Probe and Exclusive Photos: Fire to the Node.) The cabinet itself contained a battery for backup power made by Avestor, an AT&T supplier that went bankrupt in 2006 and shut down shortly thereafter.

There are 17,000 of the same type of Avestor batteries across AT&T's network. But AT&T says a thorough investigation by engineering firm Exponent Inc. has put to rest fears that future incidents are likely.

Here is AT&T's statement in full:

After one of our network equipment batteries malfunctioned in Houston last year, we retained one of the nation's leading engineering and scientific consulting firms to investigate the issue, along with a subsequent incident, and advise the company as to the risk of continued usage of the battery in question.

The final report was issued [to AT&T] last week. The third-party firm found that the battery design was sound, as were the safety features, and concluded that the risk of hazardous failures with this battery is as low, if not lower, than the risk with alternative batteries, which are used by other telecommunications and cable companies in similar applications. The investigation found that the incidents in Houston were most likely caused by a manufacturing defect in those two batteries.

AT&T puts the highest priority on the safety of its customers, employees, and communities - and our track record reflects that.

Earlier, AT&T announced that it will be using nickel cadmium batteries from Saft "to provide battery back-up service for parts of its wire-line network." Saft is a former unit of Alcatel, AT&T's lead equipment integrator for its fiber-to-the-node (FTTN) network and IPTV services. Saft's batteries, the company says, are "optimized for long life under extreme temperature conditions and will survive without maintenance for up to 10 years." (See AT&T Picks SAFT.)

— Phil Harvey, Energizer Bunny, Light Reading

About the Author(s)

Phil Harvey

Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

Phil Harvey has been a Light Reading writer and editor for more than 18 years combined. He began his second tour as the site's chief editor in April 2020.

His interest in speed and scale means he often covers optical networking and the foundational technologies powering the modern Internet.

Harvey covered networking, Internet infrastructure and dot-com mania in the late 90s for Silicon Valley magazines like UPSIDE and Red Herring before joining Light Reading (for the first time) in late 2000.

After moving to the Republic of Texas, Harvey spent eight years as a contributing tech writer for D CEO magazine, producing columns about tech advances in everything from supercomputing to cellphone recycling.

Harvey is an avid photographer and camera collector – if you accept that compulsive shopping and "collecting" are the same.

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