As long as the utility can demonstrate a reasonable level of ongoing
maintenance to their infrastructure and timely response to trouble reports,
they are probably not penalized for the occasional grid failure over which
they have no control. Regardless, this is a service industry just like all
the others: The squeaky wheel gets the grease. Given what we pay for such
services, the consumer should not tolerate poor service. It's pretty
surprising those that do, however.
Real example: Prior to replacing the grandfathered protector assembly with a
new SNI, and upon initial inspection discovering that there were APPARENTLY
two working services (main & fax/computer line), I asked the customer if she
had TWO lines. Her reply: Yes, but they have never been able to USE the
Somewhat surprised, I asked how long they had had the service. About six
months, she said. "Did you ever report the trouble?" I queried. "I've never
gotten around to it" was her reply.
It was all I could do to restrain my sarcasm with my follow-up: "Oh,
THANK-YOU, ma'am! I wish EVERYONE would pay for out service but not insist on
using it. It would make my job MUCH easier!"
The next time an outage occurs, poll your neighbors and ask the NAME of their
voice provider. I predict that those WITHOUT service are with the SAME
provider while those WITH service use the services from another
Well, your cordless phones have a "base station" that is probably plugged
into your home electricity, so no electricity, no base station, no cordless
phone. Do all of your corded phones plug into your house electrical system?
Those are known as "line powered" sets.
It still amazes me when I encounter a household with NO line-powered (corded)
telephones. I inform them that it is prudent to have at least ONE such phone
on hand in the event of a power failure.
More and more folks are depending solely on cordless telephony and wireless
(cell) phones. I am still unconvinced that the "cell" phone network(s) is AS
reliable as the public switched (wired) network, much less MORE reliable,
particularly in the aftermath of a genuine disaster.
As wireless telephony continues to proliferate, is capacity is increased.
However, a disaster is hopefully confined to a small(er) area. In such an
event, the few "cell" sites serving that area would likely be overwhelmed.
Remember: Such service is wireless ONLY until it reaches the nearest tower,
where it rides on land lines and the public switched network.
- It still amazes me when I encounter a household with NO line-powered
While I understand your amazment, have you tempered that with the
extra cost for those of us who subscribe to the "all-in-one" services
of a cable company?
I don't believe that I can have a line-powered phone unless I re-
subscribe with my telco and get a separate number. Since my modem is
dependent on power, I loose all of my phones, corded or not, during a
power outage. I would need to pay the full cost of a residential phone
service for the rare occasions when the power goes out.
I'm already paying for the cable company's phone service and a couple
of cell phones (which can be charged up/powered by my car or portable
jumpstart unit) so I'm not sure that paying for a line-powered backup
system makes economic sense.
Considering the low power consumption of your cable phone router, a $75
(if that) UPS would keep it running for at least as long as the cable
companies backup power for their line gear. I have a fairly large UPS
(1420VA) that happily powers my cable modem, router, network switch and
web/mail/vru/storage server for over an hour and a half. I also have two
generators that I can bring online if needed.
- Considering the low power consumption of your cable phone router, a
- (if that) UPS would keep it running for at least as long as the
- companies backup power for their line gear.
Very true, but what does that have to do with JR's amazement when he
encounters "a household with NO line-powered (corded) telephones"?
The cable companies do have backup power. The line power supplies have
battery backup and for extended outages they will bring out a small
Honda generator and chain it at the base of the pole. I've never lost my
cable feed here during a power failure.
Sorry, my experience is different. During Hurricane Floyd in Sept. 1999,
we lost power for 72 hours. I hooked up my 5500 watt generator and
everything in the house worked... except the cable TV (TWC). During the
last two days, we were watching movies on VHS and DVD. The cable
substation is about 10 miles from me. The cable TV, nor the cable
broadband, did not come back on until the electric power came back on.
We did not have VoIP, but the telephone worked. It is one reason why I
don't want VoIP.
My longest power outage was about 39 hours, caused by an ice storm.
When the batteries on the cable system ran down I lost my cable. I
gave them a call and they brought a generator out for the cable plant.
I did have to call them a couple of times when it ran out of gas. When
they started offering phone service, they installed automatic NG
generators to prevent outages. BTW, I am on Cox cable.
Having worked for a cable company some years ago, I know what we had on
our plant. Other operators may not be as good, also there is always the
potential that an event like a hurricane or a vehicle crashing into a
pole could no only take out power, but damage the cable lines
themselves. Nothing is ever 100%.
Yep, backup systems are evolving, as is remote monitoring. When I worked
at a cable company the only way we knew about an outage was from
customer reports (or police / fire for accident caused outages). Around
the time I left they were doing a rebuild / upgrade which among other
improvements brought remote monitoring of all the line gear. It still
wouldn't tell you if a tree took out an individual customer's drop, but
any line gear failures or damage would give alarms. Of course if you're
in tornado alley, your service will still be out a good while if a
tornado rips up half a mile of poles.
When we had a major grass fire a year and a half ago, it damaged some
of the cable from the heat and dropped about 5 poles. The cable and
power went out about 4:00 PM. The electric company had the poles and
the electricity back up about 9:00 PM. Cox, the cable company, had
service restored about 9:30 PM. We did have an outage the next day
for a couple of hours when they were replacing additional cable and
electronics that could have been damaged from the heat. Those cable
line guys were moving right behind the electric company people
stringing new cable. I was really surprised just how quickly both
companies were able to respond.
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