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BOC improves toll data with network teleprocessing system.

BOC Improves Toll Data with Network Teleprocessing System Diamond State Telephone Company, which along with Bell of Pennsylvania and several other Eastern BOCs, is an operating-company affiliate of Bell Atlantic, was the first BOC to install a self-contained network teleprocessing system that previously had seen applications at independent (non-Bell) telcos.

Last year, Diamond State Tell cut into full service a BMC II (Billing Media Converter) at its new 1500-line unstaffed digital office in Hartly, Delaware. Although the application still involves storing and forwarding AMA toll data, it is substantially different in that the data is transmitted to the company's existing IBM Series/1 collectors via the Bellcore AMATPS (automatic message accounting teleprocessing system) protocol, a capability made possible by recent software developments from the Cook Electric Division of Northern Telecom.

The installation of the Cook BMC II took place early last year, at which time Hartly still was an uncut office; that is, a stepper office being prepared for cutover to a Northern Telecom DMS-10 switch. As such, it afforded the opportunity for extensive testing of the unit during the time the offer remained pre-cut.

The selection of both the site and the BMC evolved as part of an ongoing facilities modernization program that calls for the upgrading of selected offices with combinations of digital switches and teleprocessors rather than magnetic tapes that would require manual pickup and transporting over significant distances to the company's accounting centers.

To date, Diamond State Telephone counts some 30 such offices scattered throughout the system. Engineering support for the entire project, including teleprocessor evaluation, selection, installation, testing and cutover, was provided by Bell of Pennsylvania/Diamond State Tel headquarters in Philadelphia.

The BMC II operates as a self-contained network teleprocessing system by storing the LSSGR (LATA switching system generic requirement)--defined billing data recorded by the switch on hard disks to be polled by the collector for further processing. In the Hartly application, it emulates the functions of magnetic tape drives.

The BMCs can also be interfaced to the switching system to permit the simultaneous capture of data on disk and on the existing billing machine (the tape drive), a passvie mode of operation that proved useful during the first few weeks of the trial.

The interfacing of the BMC II to the IBM collectors in Wayne (Philadelphia) and Pittsburgh is accomplished by using 4800-baud data sets with secure dial-up dial-back facilities. Polling of the BMC and the other system teleprocessors can be done from either site, depending on existing circumstances, and is scheduled to take advantage of off-hour rates where long distance is involved.

The BMC can also be accessed from several local and remote sites through one of its dial-in maintenance ports via a 300-baud asynchronous data set. This link was set up for system monitoring and diagnostics by both field technicians and staff personnel during the trial and early system operation.

The second maintenance channel on the BMC is connected directly to the DMS-10 asynchronous port, which will permit the existing switch console, local dial-in console and remote surveillance console to be used for routine system diagnostics. This dual-channel feature eliminates the need for separate dedicated on-site and remote dial-up terminals for maintenance access.

To ensure against the loss of long-distance toll data in the event of a fault, Diamond State specified that the system be configured for redundancy. Thus, it consists of two compact BMC II simplex units, or main and standby chasis, each containing TEC (tape emulation circuit) microprocessors, a common microprocessor and a Winchester hard disk drive for data storage.

The functions of the units are identical, and a crossover capability permits the selection of either common microprocessor as "prime." The magnetic tape controller cards are contained in separate shallow housings above the unit and are interfaced to the tape controller ports on the DMS-10 switch. The company also requested that, in addition to the standard minor and major alarms, a third or critical alarm be added to warn of the loss of both processors and AMA capability.

Because the system occupies virtually the same space as the tape transports it replaces, its installation was simple and economical. In addition, there was no need to furnish AC power to run the disk drives. The unit was designed specifically to operate on the -48 VDC power supply at the central office and is compatible with the DMS-10 isolated ground.

The actual trial period for the BMC II was relatively short since the basic system had already been proved in a variety of applications by numerous independent telcos.

What remained to be done was to verify the unit's compatibility with the AMATPS protocol. To ensure a thorough trial of the system capabilities. Cook Electric provided an on-site technical team with a counterpart team back at its Morton Grove, Illinois, plant, as well as sufficient equipment to monitor every phase of the operation. Thus, any modifications decided on in the field were relayed to the backup team at the plant for immediate implementation. Software changes, for example, were made at Cook, and the new programs were down-loaded directly to the BMC II by means of a data link, which allowed the unit to reconfigure itself.

Prior to the trial, the BMC II was configured to allow one of the units to operate in the ABC (AMA billing circuit) mode, which permitted the real-time collection of billing data on disk while the switch wrote data to the tape. The tape interfac units were operated in the TEC mode for the remainder of the trial. To further verify the compatibility with the AMATPS protocol, the BMC II was polled by a non-IBM collector that had earlier successfully polled an identical captive system at Cook Electric.

During normal operation, both disks of the BMC record switch data simultaneously, but only one of the common processors is on line. The second processor remains in a warm-standby mode, monitoring system performance. In the event of a fault, the on-line operation of the unit is automatically transferred to the standby processor. The fault triggers an alarm light (minor, major or critical) on the BMC switch and status panel, and the alarm is reported through the switch reporting channels, which, again, eliminates the need for additional equipment.

The system also prints out maintenance logs of daily activities, such as when it was polled, how much data was transmitted and which alarms occurred. Any failing diagnostics that are programmed to run atuomatically are reported through whichever channel is currently open. If they are routed through the DMS-10, they appear at the switch console. IF a channel is not available, the data is stored internally on disk for later retrieval either through the switch console or through the dial-in maintenance console.

If the units is not polled because of a collector problem and the disks reach capacity, it automatically reverts to single-disk operation. In this case, one of the disks is locked to preserve the data, and only the second disk is overwritten with current data.

In addition, the system recognizes and reports deviations in data patterns that are considered typical for specific times of the day. If, for example, AMA data is not forthcoming for a certain period during peak calling hours, it calls attention to what might be a problem with either the switch or itself. By the same token, it accepts as a norma occurrence the infequency of such data during off hours. Because the BMC is redundant, it will remain operative even in the presence of multiple single faults as long as one switch interface, one processor and one disk drive remain operative.

Concerning maintenance, the BMC lends itself to the pack-exchange (printed-circuit board) procedures followed by Diamond State Telephoen. Since all components, including the disk drives and power supplies, are of the plug-in type and readily accessibly, they can be easly replaced by the switch technician without necessarily involving an on-site visit by Cook Electric.

With the BMC II meeting specification requirements, Diamond State Telephone is considering the possibility of integrating the unit into severa new digital offices and, depending on the availability of new switch interfaces from Cook, into existing stored-program analog offices slated for conversion to teleprocessing.
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Author:Fischman, Norm; Butterworth, Don
Publication:Communications News
Date:Mar 1, 1986
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