Chuckle. I bet they have lost several generators, however. Bolt cutters are
Unless they have buried service in your area, most cable outages are due to
tree limbs and/or ice taking lines down.
This is what rabbit ears are for, folks. Cable TV is nice-to-have, not a
survival neccessity. If you get your phone via the cable TV, well, you
shoulda read the fine print. The tradeoff for lower cost is lower
reliability. If I had cable, and went with cable phone, I'd at least have a
prepaid semi-disposable cell as a backup.
Were you the poster with all the UPS boxes and the generator? Just how were
you verifying cable stayed on during the power outage?
I have found my phone to be a lot more reliable since I moved it to
cable. See my other post about the grass fire. All my cable services
were back up in about 5 1/2 hours. The phone company was still trying
to get people back up 4 days later and their lines were underground
I have backup for my backup for my backup :). I also work from home full
time and rely on my Internet connectivity, so when (most of) the lights
go out I am still online and working. I also have two land lines
(underground in this area) and dialup provides marginal backup for the
I believe that neither a subscriber-provided UPS or genset can be used to
restore power to a cable-based phone system as it is the current applied to
the neighborhood's coaxial network that powers the voice port mounted on each
Nevertheless, yours is a classic example of our decreasing tolerance for
service outages and our improving lifestyle that places such things as a
standby generator within reach of more and more mere mortals.
In the case of a home-based VOIP system (Voice Over Internet Protocol) during
a grid power failure, a UPS then generator could power the system in the home.
Of course, the VOIP system relies on working input from the broadband
provider. If the neighborhood system, which provides the needed data flow to
a VOIP system, is down, the VOIP user has no "dial tone".
I haven't run across a cable company that doesn't have backup power. I'm
sure there is some crappy system without backup somewhere, but all I
have dealt with had reasonable backup. Now that they are in the voice
and data markets as well as video they are also taking backup even more
Yours is a legitimate issue. I suppose it is no different than subscribing to
the services of a single electric power utility - upon which virtually all of
us rely. Subscribing to TWO such feeds, even if a second were available,
would be cost prohibitive.
Coaxial cable-based telephone networks employ a vastly different and, in some
ways, improved technology whereby everything is delivered via one coaxial
cable. There is an "RT" (voice port) on the outside of most subscribers'
premises. It is there that the digital signal is converted to analog to
interface with your legacy telephone equipment. The current required to power
these individual terminals is delivered over the same coax from the
neighborhood's interface/node/whatever. It is this power (and the conversion
at the back of the house) that creates the dialtone heard when going off-hook
and the ringing current when a call is received. If you listen carefully at
this RT on the back of the house when receiving a call, you'll hear a small
relay clicking on-and-off, interrupting the ringing current.
This is not necessarily a given. If the CATV-based system has prompt standby
power, your dialtone could easily remain virtually uninterrupted or restore
much more promptly than the failed grid, which would empower "corded" phones
while cordless sets/systems would remain silent without their required grid
Agreed. However, a POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service) phone, AKA a "corded"
phone, is a valuable tool to use at the interface for trouble shooting.
Regardless of who or what is providing your telephone service, a corded phone
might work when the lights go out. Keeping a CheapieChirper<tm> phone in a
drawer is cheap insurance.
You're making a generalization here that is not true. Some systems
may work this way, but many do not. For example, here in the NYC
area, the large cable network Cablevision, only supplies a VOIP box
that the customer plugs into the cable and AC supply anywhere inside
their home. If the power goes out, there is no cable feed powering
the box and you lose service.
Plus, many people are using third party VOIP phone services, like
Vonage. They are not even part of the cable or phone companies.
They send you a VOIP box that is also powered by the home AC.
I apologize. I recall encountering one, such arrangement. It took me by
surprise and took a while to figure out. What I described is what Cox is
doing in its Omaha service area. With the voice port mounted outside the
premise and, hopefully, near the incumbent telco entrance/interface, switching
networks is more convenient and serviceable than if the dialtone were
emanating from a modem/box behind a TV or computer some where inside the
Where/how do they connect with the outside world to make VoIP work? Their
connectivity is coming from either a physical, land-based network OR
Traditional telephone service has historically been more reliable than
CATV service due to it's lack of active gear on the poles and remote
from the central office.
With traditional phone service each customer has their own wire pair all
the way back to the local telco central office switch so there isn't
anything but wire on the poles and the central offices have been built
to the old Bell Labs standards with substantial backup power.
CATV has always had active gear on the poles in the form of line
amplifiers and now fiber optic "nodes", so there has always been an
issue with needing to provide backup power at all those remote
The situation is rapidly changing now where growth of urban sprawl and
the need to provide data and video services to every customer has made
it necessary for the telcos to shift to the remote terminal model which
puts active gear in the field just like with the CATV system and
subjects them to the same remote backup power needs.
Basically the old notion of the telephones always working is going out
the window just as rapidly as the old notion of the cable never working.
In many areas where the telcos RT transition is in place, which also
correspond to areas where the cable operators are the most up to date,
both services are of comparable, reasonably high reliability.
1. Cordless phones cannot work when the base station
2. Your cord-connected phone ought to remain in service
even if the electricity fails. The phone company ought to
be able to check your house circuits. Because two or
more houses exhibit this behavior, the fault is probably
in the phone company trunk.
3. In the mean time, a cell phone may meet your needs.
No solution for you, jut a story.
When a storm knocked a small telephone pole down, so that they cable
for our 109 houses went into the stream, the phone company came out I
think but didn't tell me, though I had called.
I should say that all the phones were working fine, even with the wire
under water when it rained.
When I called again a couple months later, after that I could see
where the electric company had come out and marked wires, to say they
weren't theirs or something.
It took 2 1/2 years before they replaced the pole.
I had called a total of 4 times.
I wouldn't have kept calling them if they had acknowledged any of my
calls and told me it could take years. I could live with that. The
phone worked fine, although I did suspect that my low dial-up speeds
were because of it, but I'm convinced now that they weren't.
I have to tell you - your story hit my funny bone. God, I sure hope
my problem doesn't descend to anything like yours. In any case, I am
thinking of changing phone service to cable. I just don't know how
that would adapt to my present Verizon system, or if it would do me
If your current service is good, or even just adequate, switching providers
would be for SAVINGS alone. Even then, after the switch-over inticements are
used up (1/2-price for 6 months, etc), the price is rarely much different.
Lately, the incumbent telco is occasionally CHEAPER than the "new" dialtone
company. Ain't competition grand?
on 8/26/2007 11:29 PM Jim Redelfs said the following:
A few months ago, when I was tired of paying exorbitant prices for my
telco phone service and thinking about VoIP, I decided to give the telco
one last chance. I called them and asked (rather facetiously) the
service rep who answered, "I'm paying too much for telephone service,
should I go with Vonage or Time Warner"? She dropped the monthly charges
by about a third and I didn't lose any of the extras I had been paying
Sometimes competition works :) It's also important to periodically audit
your current service vs. current offerings as you may find that there
are newer offerings that are less expensive and they don't automatically
shift you to those cheaper options.
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