Low Voltage And No Alarms Caused Major Switch Damage We Could Have Prevented ... I Was Sold On Alarming After That

Kevin Arthur
Kevin Arthur
Network Operations Manager
Central Utah Telephone

The first time Kevin Arthur saw T/MonXM, he wasn't too impressed. But Kevin discovered the importance of network monitoring in a flash of lightning - the lightning that destroyed the rectifiers at a newly turned up remote site. While the flash was instantaneous, Kevin didn't find out about it for 18 hours, long enough for low voltage to cause major damage to a brand new switch.

Kevin has worked with all kind of telecom equipment, but he hadn't worked with network monitoring until he came to Central Utah Telephone (CUT). Kevin worked his way up in telecommunications, starting with working inside/outside plant in the Air Force and Qwest before arriving at CUT, where he is now Network Operations Manager.

Kevin admits that the first time he saw the T/MonXM WorkStation in CUT's central office, he didn't think too much of it.

"It was under a desk and covered with dust," Kevin said.

Network Monitoring Seems Unimportant - Until Problems Happen

It's easy to regard network monitoring as unimportant secondary equipment. It doesn't generate revenue, and technically, you don't need to install network monitoring before putting a site into service.

But then the lightning struck. It hit a remote site that had recently been put into operation with all new equipment.

"We had a brand new building, a brand new rectifier, and a brand new switch," said Kevin. But the installers had missed one thing. "We were slow to put in alarms at this one system," Kevin said.

The lightning blew out the rectifiers, and the site ran off batteries for 18 hours before it was discovered, Kevin said. And the low voltage caused expensive damage to some of the cards in the switches.

"If we'd had the KDA installed as part of the initial install, we would have been able to catch that before there was major damage. Some of the damage was because of the lightning strike, but most was from running on low batteries. And when you have to pay $5,000 for each blown card ... I was sold on alarming after that," Kevin said.

Prevent Equipment Loss
Early warnings of problems can prevent expensive equipment losses.

Power Supply Monitoring Prevents Expensive Equipment Damage

Kevin said that the real value of alarm monitoring can be presented in plain dollars-and-cents terms. Early warnings of problems can prevent expensive equipment losses.

"I'm sure we've saved some money because of our alarm system. I mean, if we had to replace just one card in our switch that was affected by heat or power issues, that's money that would pay for the entire alarm system," Kevin said.

It really pays to monitor power supplies carefully. If the power supply goes, it will take the entire site down with it, and potentially part of the network, too.

Kevin offered an example of how network monitoring is crucial for managing power supplies. "Lately we've had a bad string of batteries up on a mountaintop radio site. We can see what's going on with them, and we know we need to send someone up there. If we lost that site, we'd lose a whole city."

"What I like about the IAM-5 is how easy it is to use ..."

Kevin Arthur - Central Utah Telephone

How to Manage a Big Network with a Handful of Technicians

Network monitoring also helps Kevin manage a service area that covers wide stretches of rural Utah. Central Utah Telephone delivers phone and Internet services to over 9,000 customers, and Kevin has recently been put in charge of alarm monitoring for CUT's newly acquired Cable TV division.

"Alarm monitoring is critical. It takes four hours to travel to two of our main sites, and we have a limited number of technicians.

Kevin runs his monitoring through an IAM-5 (an upgrade from the dusty, under-the-desk T/Mon) and KDA 864 remote telemetry units.

"What I like about the IAM-5 is how easy it is to use," said Arthur. "You can get around in the interface pretty easy."

Improving Network Monitoring Capabilities

Because network monitoring is so important to his operations, Kevin is always looking for ways to add more capabilities to his network alarm monitoring system and use it more effectively.

"Using paging and paging over e-mail has been our biggest improvement," Kevin said. "We have paging alerts for everything from power outages to switch alarms. Every major alarm is paged to all central office technicians."

Kevin said he also wants to monitor his switches using the IAM-5's ASCII alarm processor. "With ASCII, I'd like to get much more specific alarms. Right now our switch will print out 'Major' or 'Minor.' If I'm going to be paged in the middle of the night, I want to know the specifics: which site, which switch, and which card, so I know whether it's worth it to go check it out."

Read More Success Stories ...


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