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Virtual Telecommunication Facility Tour
Behind the scenes of where your voice and data is processed!
By Red Squirrel

To listen to circuits, a patch cable is plugged into one of the 4 jacks. There are two jacks for facility in (Tx and Rx) and two jacks for equipment out (Tx and Rx). Basically, Facility in is one side of the circuit; For example, what is coming and going to point A, and equipment out is what is coming and going to point B. By listening to the circuit, the problem can be diagnosed. Sometimes it requires someone at another office to listen or send tones to see how far they go, and the quality loss, but sometimes the circuit can be remotely looped so sent tones come back. This is done with an AL4 unit which loops the circuit when a specific frequency is sent to it, some also require to actually "log in", such as the ones for datapac circuits (ATM machines, credit card etc...)

DE-4 channel banks
DE-4 channel Banks
(Different angle | straight view)

Plugging a patch cable into a DE-4 card cuts off the circuit, the same way as plugging in ear phones cuts off the speakers. To avoid this, there is another section with more plugs which work the same way, but they don't block off the circuit. Most of the time, the testing is done through these instead. There is a test set which is located in order for patch cables to reach everywhere. Testing sometimes requires to have a few patch cords going here and there, and can look confusing!

Test jacks
Test jacks
(Test set)

If you look on your left (I need to make this sound like a tour more) you will see some more equipment. This is the DEX and the Newbridge. They both do the same work but are simply two different types of equipment. They are used to cross connect circuits. For example, you have a T1 that comes from point A, and you want to send channel 4 to a T1 going to point B, and send out the rest to point C, it is done here. The DEX has a monitor and keyboard and is software driven, this monitor and keyboard is also used to view/acknowledge/clear alarms.

(different angle | DEX)

A little further down this row, there's more DE-4's on the right, and the Newbridge/DEX on the left, then the test set and test jacks, then finally the T3 equipment. A T3 is 28 T1's combined. A T3 can also be referred to as a DS3, and a T1 as a DS1. It's the exact same thing, and I won't go into the history of that...

DS3 / T3
(DS3 cards)

Now past the T3 equipment, we hit the end of the row. Right at the end there are fiber boxes. This is basically a termination panel for fibers where it is separated into DS3's and so on. There are some made by Cisco and some made by NEC. They use different protocols and encoding but do the same job of transporting lot of data on a fiber line.

Cisco Fiber Optic Transport System
Cisco 13434 Fiber Optic Transport System(FOTS)

The racks where the DE-4 channel banks have quite a lot of wires behind them. These all go from the equipment to the ceiling in big cables and go to the MDF (main distribution frame). Every single equipment is hard wired to the MDF, that way when new customers need to be *hooked up* with a service, it is all done at one place, instead of starting to wire stuff all over, which would end up in a big mess!

cables headed from the equipment to the MDF
(MDF | different angle | another different angle | copper pairs going to another facility)

A little further down, there is entry of DC power for the equipment. There are grasshopper fuses and cartridge fuses, and as well as huge capacitors. You can get a nasty shock if you ground yourself an touch any terminals. This is -48VDC, and the amperage is VERY high! Also, at the far end of the room, there is a rack of equipment, which is for the ATM connections (asynchronous transfer mode). This is NOT banking machines, but rather very high speed lines such as 100mbps WANs etc. It just happens to have the same acronym as automated teller machine.

grasshopper fuses
(top capacitors on the other side | ATM equipment)

In the basement, there is a giant UPS, there are two, actually, as one is for the DMS200 long distance telephone switches, which won't be shown here as taking a picture with a flash can cause unwanted effects on the equipment and it's too dark in there to not use a flash. In that same room there's also switches for datapac (credit card machines at stores etc).

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Latest comments (newest first)
Posted by Red Squirrel on April 04th 2004 (08:33)
Thanks for the feedback. The radio tower is actually part of the backup in this setup, but there's no OC3's for backup, its mostly all lower bandwith. There's actually regulations and it's required by law for any telco to have some kind of backup. At least so emergency data can pass through (people calling 911 etc...)
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