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Optical/IP

Tulsa Outage Serves As Warning

A chilling reminder of why carriers get so paranoid about the reliability of backbone equipment occurred in the early hours of last Tuesday morning. A cross-connect stopped working in a Tulsa, Oklahoma, facility of South Western Bell, and as a result, hundreds of thousands of customers couldn’t use a variety of telecom services for a period of several hours.

Quite how many people suffered problems is a moot point. SBC Corp. http://www.sbc.com, South Western Bell’s parent company, says 186,000 customers couldn’t make long-distance calls but could still make local ones. However, anybody with a 918 area code might have experienced difficulties using some services, and that’s a total of 627,000 customers.

Luckily, most of these folk were tucked up in bed, blissfully unaware of the outage, which started at 2:30 AM and was pretty much over by 8:00 AM.

The point to bear in mind is that tomorrow’s cross-connects are likely to carry orders of magnitude more traffic. In other words, the impact of an outage could be orders of magnitude worse. For that reason, reliability is likely to become even more of an issue in the future.

It’s also worth noting that it wasn’t the cross-connect that failed; it was the power supply.

By Peter Heywood, International Editor, Light Reading, http://www.lightreading.com

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