Who do we thank for phones working?

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by John Watson, Oct 3, 2003.

  1. John Watson

    John Watson Screenwriter

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    Many times in power failures I've noticed that we can still talk on phones, while we are in the dark, or freezer contents are thawing. Right now many houses in NS are still without power 5 days after Hurricane Juan hit, but at least they can communicate by phone.

    Who was responsible for deciding the trickle of power for phones should be carried with the phone line? Was it great foresight, or just dumb luck, or something else?
     
  2. David Susilo

    David Susilo Screenwriter

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    I don't know whom to thank, but I think it's a foresight (although not THAT great) after the recent blackout where even phonelines are down.
     
  3. Denward

    Denward Supporting Actor

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    In this age of cordless phones, don't forget to always have one corded phone plugged in as a backup in case electricity goes out. We use cordless for 99% of our conversations, but I have a corded phone on the wall of my kitchen and bathroom.
     
  4. SteveA

    SteveA Supporting Actor

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    Many people here in Virginia lost phone service went hurricane Isabel came through a couple weeks ago. As it stands, just about everyone has power back on, but some people were told by the phone company that it will be November before their service can be restored. I'd hardly call that reliable service.
     
  5. Mark Murphy

    Mark Murphy Supporting Actor

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    If there is no commercial power to the telco's Central Office, they run off generators and worse case, batteries. As long as they keep the generators fueled, you won't lose regular phone service to a power outage. PBX, ISDN or any other phones that use ac power(cordless too) are a different story. As far as the Virginia issue, the outside cables were probably damaged by the hurricane. I am a Central Office Tech, so I'm not so well informed about the outside stuff.
     
  6. Mark Shannon

    Mark Shannon Screenwriter

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    During the North East US and Canada blackout back in August, I relized what use the power is to us. All of the phones in my house are cordless, so, we didn't have any phones working for the first night. Not even my cell phone worked, as I believe the relay station (one of those big antennas off of the highway, heh) relied on power from the grid. So, we rummaged through our house for some corded phones, and we managed to find two. Not that I had anyone to call, anyways...
     
  7. Lance Nichols

    Lance Nichols Supporting Actor

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    During the big power outage, I had land line usage, and at work, had Internet access. This means most of the major telecoms lines were up and running.

    I was lucky, or at least my wife was lucky (I had to pull a 19 hr shift that day). We had power back by 3AM, thanks to us being on the same grid section as a local hospital.

    I have been looking at "off the grid" solutions since then.

    IIRC, Phone use little actual power. Ring voltage is 100V, but the amperage is low, and I think that the carrier voltage is 24v. Likely, each switching station has it's own UPS and generator that powers the local switch and it fabric of connections.
     
  8. John Watson

    John Watson Screenwriter

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    The fact that the relatively little power needed for the phone comes on the phone lines, and not from the hosehold service, is what has been miraculous for many crises.

    The original decision to do it that way may have been made without knowledge of how great a role it would play, but I was just curious how it came about.
     
  9. Mark Murphy

    Mark Murphy Supporting Actor

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    48V is all it takes!
     
  10. Seth--L

    Seth--L Screenwriter

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    WHAT?!
     
  11. Kirk Gunn

    Kirk Gunn Screenwriter

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    Probably because the phone company did not have a plethora of other companies to "borrow" talent from.

    When our county in MD was recovering from Isabelle, there were a ton of bucket trucks from NC plowing the roads. Heard the local utilities got help from as far away as Texas and Nebraska. Sure it wasn't cheap, but folks still b-tch that power was out a week. 90% of our county was without power and they got us back up within 5 days. Pretty amazing.

    I don't think the local phone company has that talent pool to draw from.
     
  12. Seth--L

    Seth--L Screenwriter

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    Still, a month? What are they doing, rebuilding the entire phone grid from ground up?
     
  13. Joseph DeMartino

    Joseph DeMartino Lead Actor

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  14. John Watson

    John Watson Screenwriter

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    Joseph, that's the answer I guess. I'm no electrical engineer so it hadn't occurred to me that it is inherent.

    I thought it might have had something to do with some rivalry between Bell and Edison.

    Dam shame the cable company can't give enuff juice down their lines to power my TV when the electrical service is off! [​IMG]
     
  15. Kirk Gunn

    Kirk Gunn Screenwriter

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    Reminds me of the tech support horror story where someone is troubleshooting a PC that won't power up. After the usual inquiries (is the PC hooked to the monitor, is the power cord plugged in, etc), the end user states she can't do any more PC troubleshooting because her office is too dark (they lost power over an hour ago...). The tech told her to pack up the PC and send it back because she was too stupid to work on a computer. Tech support got fired.

    Not sure if that story's an urban legend or not.

    As for the complete phone recovery for taking a month plus, that is feasible. The phone company probably did need to rebuild a good portion of their grid and to mobilize that force would take some time. They probably keep only a minimal repair staff on hand to keep daily costs down. Considering the rural areas of NC, VA, etc, those people will not be first on the "hit list" of repairs.

    Interesting side note on Cell phones, most towers do have backup generators and batteries. However, I'm not sure whose responsibility it is to refuel the generators during an extended outage, probably the owner of the tower since multiple cell phone carriers can share a single pole.
     
  16. Philip_G

    Philip_G Producer

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  17. Mark Murphy

    Mark Murphy Supporting Actor

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    I don't about VA, but up here in New England, if there is a major storm that creates major phone service issues, all available technicians are sent to the area that needs repair. I don't know the extent of the damage there, but if a large number of poles and cables were damaged (nevermind the droplines going to each individual home) then it will take some time to get them back up. I'm sure there are techs from other areas helping out, but it can be a slow process.
     
  18. Mark Murphy

    Mark Murphy Supporting Actor

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  19. Joseph DeMartino

    Joseph DeMartino Lead Actor

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