Telecom Collapse?

Stephen Sprunk stephen at
Fri Dec 5 03:53:09 UTC 2008

Skywing wrote:
> No POTS line here.  New office is all VoIP, too.  For my own use, though, I'm sticking with cell.  Don't recall the last time that there was an outage to the point where I couldn't make a voice call in the past few years (though I've seen EVDO data go down for my region and have had to fall back to 1xRTT for an hour or once in the past couple years).

Ditto for my GSM/EDGE/3G service; coverage has simply gotten too good 
(and too cheap) to bother with a land line at home anymore.  And that, 
more than VoIP, is what is killing the ILECs.

> Naturally, that doesn't really disprove a negative, but the chances of there being, all at the same time:
> - a sufficiently localized disaster where I'd have to call 911, and
> - a sufficiently broad disaster where the cell infrastructure had completely failed for all the CDMA carriers in my area, and
> - nobody near by who could help or had a landline, and
> - despite said broad disaster taking out *ALL* CDMA cell networks within range, a condition that still permitted landlines to operate
> ...seem to be quite vanishing to me.  Not impossible, but there's a whole lot more likely concerns to deal with than that, nowadays.  The only likely types of situations that might result in that, in general, would probably be things like wide-area hurricane-style events.  Those typically provide enough advance warning to get out of harm's way.  (Not that I would have to worry about hurricanes in the middle of the continental US, anyway.)

And, of course, if such an event _did_ occur, the authorities would 
certainly already know about it without your call -- if you could even 
get through to them.  Even in everyday conditions, calls to 911 here 
have hold times of several minutes to get an operator.  I wouldn't even 
bother trying, land line or otherwise, if I had an actual emergency; 
it'd be faster to drive to the nearest hospital/fire station/police 
station for help.  (Unfortunately, the police and fire depts. have 
stopped publishing their direct numbers, and if you can still find them 
somewhere, all you get is a recording telling you to call 911 -- even 
for non-emergency calls.)

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