Telecom Collapse?

Paul Stewart pstewart at
Thu Dec 4 15:43:12 UTC 2008

Well put Joe...

I haven't had a landline in quite a bit neither and rely on VOIP today.
This doesn't mean that it's never gone down but for the few times it
ever has it has never worried me.

There's at least two cell phones in our house whenever the family is
home and I have neighbors within quick walking distance.

What worries me the most is a power outage longer than say 8 hours.
This is the typical battery time at most cell sites, telco remotes and
many telco CO's.  Beyond those 8 hours, it's quite probable that the
site will go down and you'll have no cell or landline anyways.  This is
purely geographically related as the larger centers have generators
attached - one could argue that portable generators would be used to
keep these battery sites up but in a large scale outage lasting more
than 8 hours I don't know a company out there that has enough portable
generators to keep ALL their sites up.

Have I seen my cell go down in a power outage? Yes
Have I seen my landline go down in a power outage when I had them? Yes

Take care,


-----Original Message-----
From: Joe Abley [mailto:jabley at] 
Sent: Thursday, December 04, 2008 10:33 AM
To: Josh Potter
Cc: nanog at
Subject: Re: Telecom Collapse?

On 2008-12-04, at 09:47, Josh Potter wrote:

> I believe there is a law that requires just that, even if you don't  
> have an
> active service plan the phone must still be able to access 911.

With GSM phones you don't even need a SIM in the phone to call 911  
(and equivalent numbers in other regions).

I have two children at home, and I haven't had dial-tone on copper for  
years. I don't lose any sleep over it; that's just one of a thousand  
highly-improbable disasters that could happen, albeit one that  
apparently enjoys better marketing than some.

If I *was* concerned, I think I'd buy a cheap GSM handset with no SIM  
and leave it chained somewhere the kids could find, plugged in.

I seem to remember when I *did* have dial-tone from Bell Canada I'd  
pick up the handset and get dead air a disturbing proportion of the  
time. The idea that copper wire-line providers are the only ones who  
can provide stable telephony doesn't ring true, for me. There's a  
reason why the five nines don't include the last mile.




"The information transmitted is intended only for the person or entity to which it is addressed and contains confidential and/or privileged material. If you received this in error, please contact the sender immediately and then destroy this transmission, including all attachments, without copying, distributing or disclosing same. Thank you."

More information about the NANOG mailing list