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Kaiser finds PBX solution.


Kaiser Permanente's Southern California region trimmed cost of a PBX cutover from $400,000 to $100,000 by setting up a local voice loop over a digital fiber optic T3 link instead of using analog lines.

The switch exemplifies the company's new "heal thyself" approach--taking care of its needs rather than relying on outside providers.

The toughest part of the application was finding enough cable to support the swap of Pac Bell centrex for Kaiser's Northern Tel SL-1XT.

The Pasadena-based health care provider's Panorama City Medical Center needed 384 cable pairs to support parallel operation of both systems for the PBX's first month of operation. Pac Bell had only 100 pairs available from its Van Nuys CO.

Pac Bell first suggested using 40 of the 100 analog pairs to provide local-loop service between its CO and Kaiser's Panorama City Medical Center. Pac Bell SLC-96 muxes could divide 10 pairs (five T1s) into 96 separate channels. Four at each network location provided the full 384 pairs.

The bad news was that this would have gouged $400,000 from Kaiser's budget.

Better Idea

"Before coming to Kaiser," says Kaiser Telecomm Planner Robert Emmer, "I'd worked with PBXs that had digital interfaces between them for tie lines--not local loops. I recommended we bring T1 service in digitally instead of on local pairs."

Knocking out the SLC-96s brought the project into Kaiser's price range, but Pac Bell's Van Nuys DMS-100 was set up for analog service only. The carrier didn't even have a tariff for digital access to the public switched network.

Couple these roadblocks with Emmer's discovery that a single cable slice during the cutover would wipe out the 50 to 60 wire pairs Kaiser's 28 T1s were riding on. Being five miles from the CO leaves few routing options.

Then Pac Bell discovered it had fiber 3 feet from the copper cabling. "There's enough physical separation that we lessen the possibility that a single incident will take out everything," Emmer says.

Four years in planning, the actual 3000-line cutover was a snap. "We did it at 1 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 4, 1989. By 3 a.m. virtually everybody responsible for checking milestones and events had gone home."

Months of meetings kept the LEC and vendors apprised of what they had to do at each step. Unlike with flash cuts, there was no need for backup. The switch involved merely directing referrals from the old CO number to the new Kaiser one.

A Kentrox CSU at its end of each T1 circuit allows the Panorama City Medical Center to test its own network. CSUs aren't required on fiber, but Kaiser uses them to establish a point for intermediate line testing.

Kaiser is probably the first and last user to get the service for a flat rate. The carrier has filed a tariff proposing to charge $160 a month per T1 for customers who want to use T1s for applications other than tie lines (these include local-loop uses like DID service, WATS and FX lines).
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Title Annotation:Kaiser Permanente's Southern California region
Publication:Communications News
Date:Jul 1, 1990
Previous Article:Putting voice and data on same road.
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