Gary Audin
Gary Audin is the President of Delphi, Inc. He has more than 40 years of computer, communications and security...
Read Full Bio >>

Gary Audin | December 30, 2012 |


Our Networks; Not Ready for a Disaster

Our Networks; Not Ready for a Disaster A public-private initiative, one that is more than talk, will be necessary to create the network services resiliency we already need but do not have

A public-private initiative, one that is more than talk, will be necessary to create the network services resiliency we already need but do not have

This year's natural disasters in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions, where a major portion of the U.S. population lives, have created more emergencies than anticipated. They have demonstrated that the carriers, providers and the FCC lag in delivering more resilient networks.

Disasters in My Life
I experienced the earthquake in August 2011, the Derecho storm in June 2012 and Sandy in October 2012. The earthquake was scary but not a disruption in my area, but it did affect southern Virginia. The Derecho storm and Sandy did cause problems. However, we had fewer communications and power interruptions than might be expected because of Sandy. Most of the trees that could disrupt communications and power had already fallen down during the Derecho storms, so fewer trees fell during Sandy, causing fewer outages.

The article posted at Knowledge @Wharton, "Disconnected? The Perils of Digital Interdependence" revived my interest in communications during and after emergencies. Like many discussions of communications failures, this article discusses the need to preserve communications for first responders and public safety. Many of these agencies use wireless services to perform their jobs, so wireless loss equals ineffective or late emergency response. The Wharton article also discusses communications loss encountered by consumers and businesses.

Some of this communications loss was due to power loss. You can't access broadband IP services if your modem and router are down. As it turns out, the mobile services also took hits from Sandy. However, some of the wireless loss was due a lack of long-term power backup for the wireless towers.

Closing the PSTN?
I grew up and worked with the gold-plated PSTN. This was effectively mandated by the FCC. Now AT&T wants to retire the resilient TDM PSTN, as discussed in its "AT&T Petition to Launch a Proceeding Concerning the TDM-to-IP Transition". If the petition is successful, then AT&T will have fewer responsibilities. One reason AT&T wants to move away from the PSTN is that the PSTN is not as profitable as their other services.

The argument that the landlines are decreasing in use is correct. But the decrease is a lot slower than AT&T would have you believe. A phase-out of the TDM network will eventually happen. But replacing it with an all-IP network that does not produce the same resiliency as the PSTN will only lead to more expensive consumer and business losses, besides the impact on first responders using wireless communications.

My NoJitter article "PSTN Closure, the End of POTS, the Challenges" discusses the termination of the PSTN and the expected ramifications. I don't think we are ready to abandon the PSTN yet. The loss of communications during Sandy did not prove that mobile networks were any more reliable than landline and VoIP cable networks.

The FCC Responds to Communications Disasters
In response to the communications problems encountered with these emergencies, the FCC has announced hearings on new challenges to network resiliency. This will certainly open a lot of questions and create a number of strategic plans. But I am not sure it will go anywhere. There is no financial incentive for carriers and providers to build the rock-solid networks that could withstand events like Sandy in the future. The carriers and providers will shout that this resiliency level will raise their service costs. If the FCC tries to mandate resiliency improvements, there will be pushback by the lobbyists. The federal government, with its financial limitations, cannot afford to pay for the improvements. Maybe we should have a communications continuity tax like the USF to fund the resiliency improvements.

The point I made in my previous blog, "Five Nines and Acts of God", was that "The Derecho storm and outages in Virginia demonstrate the need for enterprises to understand the carriers' systems and potential shortcomings." This article covered the poor Verizon support for 911 calls during and for 3-1/2 days after that storm passed. 911 in northern Virginia was a mess because Verizon did not have adequate backup facilities and lost two major central offices for a time. This was mainly due to inadequate power backup capabilities. Even when my FiOS Internet and TV service resumed, I could not make or receive phone calls on either my FiOS cable connection or my POTS landline for days. In portions of Verizon's service areas, these problems hampered first responders' ability to deliver help.

Another Two Views on Disasters
The NoJitter article "Earthquakes, Floods, and Pestilence: Life in the Northeast" by Michael Finneran was written before the Derecho storm and before Sandy. Michael's last comments in his article are still valid: "The biggest lessons from this however should be 1) communications networks truly are critical in these emergencies, 2) people have adopted the new options and will include them in their list of options in difficult times, and 3) the public broadcast media needs to be soundly scolded so that next time, they overcome the urge to sensationalize for ratings purposes and understand their real responsibility is to provide the public with clear, accurate, and useful information."

Another article on the effects of Sandy was included in the IEEE Computing Now publication, "Disaster Recovery in the Wake of Hurricane Sandy: A Personal Account". It is worth a read to get another view of our preparedness or lack thereof for disasters and our ability to sustain adequate communications during and after emergencies.

I think that a public-private initiative, one that is more than talk, will be necessary to create the network services resiliency we already need but do not have.


April 25, 2018

Yesterdays simple phone call to a contact center or business location is rapidly becoming todays interactive session, spanning multiple channels and devices. If you need to know how Omnichannel can

March 7, 2018

Video collaboration is experiencing significant change and innovation-how can your enterprise take advantage? In this webinar, leading industry analyst Ira Weinstein will present detailed analysis

February 21, 2018

Business agility has become the strongest driver for enterprises to begin migrating their communications to the cloud-and its a benefit that enterprises are already realizing. To gain this benefit

March 12, 2018
An effective E-911 implementation doesn't just happen; it takes a solid strategy. Tune in for tips from IT expert Irwin Lazar, of Nemertes Research.
March 9, 2018
IT consultant Steve Leaden lays out the whys and how-tos of getting the green light for your convergence strategy.
March 7, 2018
In advance of his speech tech tutorial at EC18, communications analyst Jon Arnold explores what voice means in a post-PBX world.
February 28, 2018
Voice engagement isn't about a simple phone call any longer, but rather a conversational experience that crosses from one channel to the next, as Daniel Hong, a VP and research director with Forrester....
February 16, 2018
What trends and technologies should you be up on for your contact center? Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center & Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2018, gives us the lowdown.
February 9, 2018
Melanie Turek, VP of connected work research at Frost & Sullivan, walks us through key components -- and sticking points -- of customer-oriented digital transformation projects.
February 2, 2018
UC consultant Marty Parker has crunched lots of numbers evaluating UC options; tune in for what he's learned and tips for your own analysis.
January 26, 2018
Don't miss out on the fun! Organizer Alan Quayle shares details of his pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon, TADHack-mini '18, showcasing programmable communications.
December 20, 2017
Kevin Kieller, partner with enableUC, provides advice on how to move forward with your Skype for Business and Teams deployments.
December 20, 2017
Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst with ZK Research, shares his perspective on artificial intelligence and the future of team collaboration.
December 20, 2017
Delanda Coleman, Microsoft senior marketing manager, explains the Teams vision and shares use case examples.
November 30, 2017
With a ruling on the FCC's proposed order to dismantle the Open Internet Order expected this month, communications technology attorney Martha Buyer walks us through what's at stake.
October 23, 2017
Wondering which Office 365 collaboration tool to use when? Get quick pointers from CBT Nuggets instructor Simona Millham.
September 22, 2017
In this podcast, we explore the future of work with Robert Brown, AVP of the Cognizant Center for the Future of Work, who helps us answer the question, "What do we do when machines do everything?"
September 8, 2017
Greg Collins, a technology analyst and strategist with Exact Ventures, delivers a status report on 5G implementation plans and tells enterprises why they shouldn't wait to move ahead on potential use ....
August 25, 2017
Find out what business considerations are driving the SIP trunking market today, and learn a bit about how satisfied enterprises are with their providers. We talk with John Malone, president of The Ea....
August 16, 2017
World Vision U.S. is finding lots of goodness in RingCentral's cloud communications service, but as Randy Boyd, infrastructure architect at the global humanitarian nonprofit, tells us, he and his team....
August 11, 2017
Alicia Gee, director of unified communications at Sutter Physician Services, oversees the technical team supporting a 1,000-agent contact center running on Genesys PureConnect. She catches us up on th....
August 4, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, has lately been working on integrating enterprise communications into Internet of Things ecosystems. He shares examples and off....
July 27, 2017
Industry watcher Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares her perspective on this acquisition, discussing Mitel's market positioning, why the move makes sense, and more.
July 14, 2017
Lantre Barr, founder and CEO of Blacc Spot Media, urges any enterprise that's been on the fence about integrating real-time communications into business workflows to jump off and get started. Tune and....
June 28, 2017
Communications expert Tsahi Levent-Levi, author of the popular blog, keeps a running tally and comprehensive overview of communications platform-as-a-service offerings in his "Choosing a W....
June 9, 2017
If you think telecom expense management applies to nothing more than business phone lines, think again. Hyoun Park, founder and principal investigator with technology advisory Amalgam Insights, tells ....
June 2, 2017
Enterprises strategizing on mobility today, including for internal collaboration, don't have the luxury of learning as they go. Tony Rizzo, enterprise mobility specialist with Blue Hill Research, expl....
May 24, 2017
Mark Winther, head of IDC's global telecom consulting practice, gives us his take on how CPaaS providers evolve beyond the basic building blocks and address maturing enterprise needs.
May 18, 2017
Diane Myers, senior research director at IHS Markit, walks us through her 2017 UC-as-a-service report... and shares what might be to come in 2018.
April 28, 2017
Change isn't easy, but it is necessary. Tune in for advice and perspective from Zeus Kerravala, co-author of a "Digital Transformation for Dummies" special edition.
April 20, 2017
Robin Gareiss, president of Nemertes Research, shares insight gleaned from the firm's 12th annual UCC Total Cost of Operations study.
March 23, 2017
Tim Banting, of Current Analysis, gives us a peek into what the next three years will bring in advance of his Enterprise Connect session exploring the question: Will there be a new model for enterpris....
March 15, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, discusses the evolving role of the all-important session border controller.
March 9, 2017
Organizer Alan Quayle gives us the lowdown on programmable communications and all you need to know about participating in this pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon.
March 3, 2017
From protecting against new vulnerabilities to keeping security assessments up to date, security consultant Mark Collier shares tips on how best to protect your UC systems.
February 24, 2017
UC analyst Blair Pleasant sorts through the myriad cloud architectural models underlying UCaaS and CCaaS offerings, and explains why knowing the differences matter.
February 17, 2017
From the most basics of basics to the hidden gotchas, UC consultant Melissa Swartz helps demystify the complex world of SIP trunking.
February 7, 2017
UC&C consultant Kevin Kieller, a partner at enableUC, shares pointers for making the right architectural choices for your Skype for Business deployment.
February 1, 2017
Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares a status report on the UCaaS market today and offers her perspective on what large enterprises need before committing to UC in the cloud.
January 26, 2017
Andrew Davis, co-founder of Wainhouse Research and chair of the Video track at Enterprise Connect 2017, sorts through the myriad cloud video service options and shares how to tell if your choice is en....
January 23, 2017
Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center/Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2017, tells us what we need to know about the role cloud software is playing in contact centers today.