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Microwave Link between Buildings Gains Communications Efficiencies.

Open most telecommunications magazines today and you will find an article about a shining new installation of a telecommunications system, complete with pictures of the satisfied user(s), a diagram of the layout and a detailed description of the meticulous planning and implementation steps taken by the industrious telecommications staff to design and operate the system. But the most important part is yet to come. Because what is it that generates repeat customers and sparkling vendor reputations?

It is not one more PBX feature on top of 100 others. It is not the price alone, nor is it the flashing lights or the color of the telephone sets. Rather, it is the lack of something-- specifically, the absence of frequent malfunctions and the uninterrupted operation of the system--that will earn the hero medal for the telecommunications manager.

Following Up the Test of Time

Som maybe the most important test of them all is the test of time. And maybe we should write more case histories about quality, durability and performance. Here is one account:

If they would award good-conduct medals to equipment, then the microwave link between PennCorp's Santa Monica, California, headquarters building and its nearby Stewart Street complex certainly deserves one. Built in 1980 as one of the first 18-GHz systems in the Los Angeles area, it was particularly well-suited and priced for this application. The high frequency and short distance involved allowed the use of antennas only two feet in diameter. The radio transmitters and receivers were mounted within a few feet of the dishes, allowing easy access for testing and maintenance.

The Harris/Farinon radio system connects two Northern Telecom SL1 telephone switches (30 intermachine trunks and four CAS trunks), interfaces to a Watsbox (20 trunks), and carries all data traffic (eight high-speed circuits) from the mainframe to the other building.

Careful Analysis Was Required

The newness of this type of microwave system required careful analysis by the PennCorp telecommunications staff in conjunction with a specialist/consultant. The decision by PennCorp management to proceed with relatively new technology demonstrates the company's progressive management style and willingness to use advanced technology to gain benefits for its customers and staff.

The timely installation of the radios allowed PennCorp to move several departments into the new building before other communications options became available. This move alone paid for the microwave installation. The radio link saved they day a second time when six months later the new computer center was installed in this building. While the old center was still operating, the new computers could be tested with live data switched across the microwave. Thanks to extensive pretesting, the final cutover of data traffic was accomplished within a few hours on a Saturday morning, just as fast as the equipment could be moved and reconnected at the new site.

Flexibility Is a Big Advantage

One of the significant advantages of a private microwave network is flexibility. With spare capacity on the system, circuits can be added in minutes by a PennCorp technician inserting additional line cards into the channel banks. Some of the testing and card replacements, what little there are, can be performed by operators/troubleshooters assigned to Joan Pickering, manager of corporate telephone systems at PennCorp.

Since the microwave radio interfaces to a multitude of equipment, such as PBXs, Watsbox, computer center and word processors, the consultant developed a total-system troubleshooting guide that helps company employees to isolate any problem to the specific malfunctioning equipment. This helps to avoid unnecessary repair calls to vendors.

Hot Standby Equipment for Backup

Equipped with hot standby transmitters, receivers and backup for other critical components, the microwave radio system has had no outages since installation. Using highly sophisticated diagnostic equipment, PennCorp computer personnel have been able to monitor the system closely and have given the microwave circuits a "clean bill of health."

May be the best compliment for the system, however, was provided by PennCorp's director of technical services, Michael Onyon, when he remarked: "We can almost forget that it's (the microwave radio) there."
COPYRIGHT 1986 Nelson Publishing
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1986 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
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Author:Weigelt, Peter
Publication:Communications News
Date:Feb 1, 1986
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