Toronto bell canada central office fire

Sean Donelan SEAN at SDG.DRA.COM
Sat Jul 17 21:34:27 UTC 1999

I don't know if things are worse when I stay in the country, or when
I leave.  And, no, my airplane had not entered Canadian airspace at
the time of the Bell Canada fire.  I believe I was still over Iceland
when it started.

Here's how the Toronto newspapers covered the story:

And here is what a the phone company had to say:[email protected]^[email protected]

While Bell Canada is doing its best at PR damage control, it does point
out the importance of not assuming the telephone company is infallible.
Even if you believe the phone company claim of 99.999% reliability, stuff
will still happen.  This is  not the first, nor I suspect the last, time
a single central office failure had an out-of-proportion impact on the
national network.  All phone companies seem especially surprised by the
affect of office failures on data circuits.  They just don't seem to put
as high a priority on data as they do on voice.

Although Bell (and indeed any carrier) hates giving out information
about their network, and how your circuits are actually routed. You
need that information to make sure Bell (or some other carrier) doesn't
route all your circuits through the same facility.  Just because you
paid for diversity, doesn't mean you got it or six months later it
is still diverse.  Even virtual circuits on ATM or Frame-relay pass
through a physical switch somewhere.

Sometimes I think the carriers don't want to give you the information,
because they don't know themselves.  After one carrier had a 2-day outage,
including several delays due to mistakes in the carrier's records, one
of my government customers made the carrier physically walk them through
the entire physical circuit route, including every patch board and mux,
to prove the carrier now knew where the circuit went.  It was interesting :-)

But the goal isn't just to point out what was wrong.  But also to add any
lessons to the knowledge base so we can avoid the same mistakes.  The
major C.O. fires in New York city, Chicago(Hinsdale), Los Angeles all
have reports looking at the causes and effects.  And I'm sure the Toronto
fire will also have a report.  In most C.O. fires, even Hinsdale, the fire
itself does very little damage.  It is all the byproducts of a fire and
fire-fighting which cause the disruption and damage.
Sean Donelan, Data Research Associates, Inc, St. Louis, MO
  Affiliation given for identification not representation

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