Three or four times a year since 1993, AT&T has been simulating a network-crushing catastrophe and subsequently sending a portion of its $500 million worth of disaster recovery equipment out into the field to practice bringing its wired and wireless networks back online. Such a simulation is currently under way in Houston. I wasn’t able to attend, but thanks to AT&T’s Flickr stream, it’s possible to see how a carrier can get its network back online (my favorites are of the poor guys in the hazmat suits setting up equipment — note the duct tape around their boots).
The entire process can take up to 162 hours to complete (53 hours in the case of AT&T losing its central office in the World Trade Center on 9-11), and involves sending trailers filled with telco gear from DSLAMS at the edge to NEC optical amplifiers for restoring the Internet backbone, hooking them together with network capability and power, and connecting it all back into the metro fiber ring. Support trailers carrying generators, tools and even ready-to-eat meals are also deployed. Since I love any sort of gear crammed into a container, I really wish I could have seen it.
photo courtesy of AT&T via Flickr