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Focus efforts on disaster avoidance not on recovery.

The latest Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary defines recovery as "regaining of or possibility or regaining something lost or taken away," and avoidance as "keep away from, keep clear, shun." Wouldn't you rather "keep away from" disaster than "regain something lost?"

Yet every conference flyer I see, every news release I read, and even some newly formed associations use recovery, not avoidance. I believe the difference is significant.

For example, at the height of the flooding last month, north of Los Angeles, 16,000 telephone lines were reported in the press as out-of-service. The usual recovery options of central office redundancy, alternate trunk routes, adjacent hot sites or over-competitive access providers in the same area were probably of little value.

Avoidance plans based on satellite, wireless or private networks would be the only answer for continuous service if requirements demanded on-line, uninterrupted operation.

Another example is the attempt by many large telecomm associations and users to secure increased, detailed reporting on service outages. There is some value to this, but what I see lately in the press is an inordinate amount of pressure and strident language directed at the Federal Communications Commission to obtain a minutiae of detail about service outages that will do little to protect a user's network.

This development is based on two reactions: (1) some major outages that have occurred recently and (2) the desire of many users to rely on their local exchange carrier to solve all their problems, a predivestiture syndrome that still prevails in some users' psyche.

So you get reports next month that show outages in four states are 6% higher this quarter than last quarter. What are you going to do with that? You'd be better off to establish a disaster avoidance capability that cuts over to another system, whether that 6% measurement goes up or down.

I can't believe a user should seriously consider trying to obtain reliable industry-wide statistics on such an elusive, movable, geographically dispersed and fragmented occurrence as local service outages. I also believe, as the regional Bell operating companies claim, that despite several recent, well-heralded service disruptions, the quality of service has never been better.

I remember before competition, in the '60s and '70s, whenever there were storm warnings in the area in which I managed a centrex system, the lines went dead for a period of time when everyone tried to call home. I also remember minor rainfalls and flooding routinely causing service outages because the local exchange carrier was the only choice in town and they never worried about avoidance, just recovery, in their switch rooms, floor closets or trunking cables.
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Title Annotation:Datacomm User; avoidance plans more effective than recovery plans in maintaining uninterrupted operation
Author:Blegen, August
Publication:Communications News
Article Type:Column
Date:Apr 1, 1992
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