Rationing dial tones..For Maria.

greenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

So, it's Tuesday morning, January 4, 2000. You're back at work. Phones are going bananas: both customers and vendors are calling: any problems? How's it going? Any failures?

Or you're at home. Curious if your direct-deposit went thru OK last night or today. Call SS and the bank to see what's up.

Are all these calls getting through? Is there capacity? If not, how are the dial tones rationed/prioritized? ATM/Visa/Bank/Grocery EDI transactions, SCADA use, Govt. use?

How many people can pick up the phone and get a dial tone simultaneously?

Frame relay and distributed computing: if connectivity is fissured, it walks, talks and quacks like Y2K?

And this is if everything in the US was fixed in time! Y2K is OK!!

Maria, do you know the process to ration dial tones so this doesn't happen?

-- Lisa (lisa@work.now), May 28, 1999


Or any telecom expert... doesn't have to be Maria.

-- Lisa (lisa@work.now), May 28, 1999.

Are you anticipating more than used on Mother's Day? That may be so. If too many people pick up the phone on 1/3/00 then you'll get "all circuits busy, please try again". Do you have to know exactly on 1/3/00 if that transaction went through on 1/3/00? Do you think phones present the only means of communications? Why don't you drive to your bank to find out? Or don't you visit your bank anymore with all the ATM's around?

To answer your direct questions, there is no rationing for dial tones and I have no idea how many "pickups" it takes to get a busy dial tone. But you hit on a good point, panic. How can panic be controlled? It can't and many people will be doing things that they normally don't do, like checking their direct deposits. (FWIW, my checks have been direct deposits for twenty two years and I've check on less than five occasions whether they've gone through).

In case you were wondering, I'll be at work on 1/1/00.

-- Maria (anon@ymous.com), May 28, 1999.

Actually, you couldn't call it panic. People are being told to get paper copies of all important accounts and documents. Takes a phone call to do that. Or less likely, mailing a request.......

Home security systems use phone lines, too.....

-- Lisa (lisa@work.now), May 28, 1999.

I remember hearing from a telco rep. (can't remember where), that if the phones are having a problem connecting all the calls coming from residences, that the payphones should still work. This of course is if there is some abilty of the phone co. to run at limited capacity. Can anyone confirm?

-- nobody (nobody@nowhere.net), May 28, 1999.

I don't know if this is applicable or not, but we lived in the RED zone of Mt St Helens when it blew its top. The surrounding area was having so much troulbe getting to the outside, via the phone, because the incoming calls from friends and relatives were jamming the lines. The telephone system did something that would only allow every tenth incoming call to go through. This allowed us to call out and let relatives know we were ok. Many people didn't have any tel service at all of course, including pay phones. One of those real fun times in life!!

Got a surgical mask....cough, cough


-- Taz (Tassie @aol.com), May 28, 1999.

Taz, your mention of the incoming/outgoing calls at St. Helen's reminded me of when Andrew hit Miami-Dade FL. The pay phones where brought in and placed 'strategically' around the effected area for our use. Those of us here could call out with no problem but the incoming calls had the busy recording.

After a couple weeks, one of my neighbor's got a phone call. They didn't even know their phone worked until it rang. so I checked mine and it worked as well, although I had to connect to the box outside directly due to the wet wiring inside. We didn't have power for months!

This was amazing since so many telephone poles in my area had fallen, and the wires crossing the roads were being driven on.

I am hoping that we do not get another 'cane this year! The hail storm we had a week ago devestated the garden and it is still trying to recover! Don't wanna start over after a 'cane and then get y2k prob's on top of that!


-- J (jart5@bellsouth.net), May 28, 1999.

This might help explain how you had a dial tone even with some telephone poles down. The origional post is somewhere here on TB2000 but I have no idea of where.

To: year-two-thousand@egroups.com From: davispXXXXXXXXXXX

Date: Mon, 08 Feb 1999 20:37:41 -0000

This was first written for Yourdon's board. Cherri asked me to repost it here. ______________________________________________________________________ _________

Now I have been asked just why I do not think everything is going down due to Y2K problems. Why the web of infrastructure will not fail due to interrelated dependencies and things just generally quit. This is not an easy question to answer, from a general overview standpoint, which is the viewpoint that has been requested. When I first tried to put the answer into words, I was not satisfied with the result at all. Explaining this sort of thing to another computer scientist is easy, but he does not need the explanation! And using the terms I was trained in will just convince everyone I am spreading a bunch of BS over real problems. And it was entirely too long. So I am going to address the question of the communications infrastructure first, then power and transportation later  my ideas about power and rail are pretty well known anyhow, but communications is a subject of a higher complexity, and not that easy to address in everyday terms. (Now dont get the idea I am talking down to anyone. People spring a new buzzword on me about once a week, and it annoys me, so I can imagine how non-techies feel about it.) So, without further ado, here is my explanation of why I dont believe the communications system will fail due to Y2K problems, with lab work yet! :^)

Get a large piece of paper, a pencil and a ruler. Mark about 30 points in a rough circle around the paper  about 6 inches across will do. Then take the ruler and draw 5 to 10 lines from each point to some of the other points. Draw your lines randomly  just make sure everything is connected without trying to make some sort of regular spirograph pattern. When you are done, you will have between 150 and 300 lines drawn on the paper. By tracing the lines, you will see there are many points without a direct connection to each other, but they can all be linked between a second or third point. Now draw a line from one of the points directly out of the circle so you have a sort of dash or tail sticking out on one side. Now do the same on the other side. Label one of them A and one B. Trace a path across the circle from one of the marked points to the other. That is pretty easy. NOW  delete one of the lines you used to trace across the circle and find an alternate route. Try deleting several lines at random. You can probably still find a number of connections that will interlink point A with point B. Fiddle with this for a while  you will soon convince yourself that an awful lot of random lines have to be deleted to completely disconnect any section of this network from any other section. (Sure, you can do it on purpose  but that is cheating.) You may take a dozen hops to get somewhere, but you can still get there. And the sections will still be in contact internally, even if you manage to disconnect some part of the net from another part, they just cant talk to certain places across the breaks. Now you have an idea of why the Russian phone system acts the way it does. ;^)

Now the dots represent routing centers in the communications system. The lines represent trunks  which can be satellite links, microwave relays, fiber optic links or even copper cable. There are a great many more than 30 major routing centers and certainly the average major routing center has more than 5 trunks. A phone call (for example) is usually broken into digital packets, the packets sent separately across the routing network, reassembled on the other end, and sent across the local system to your phone. No rule is set about the route it may follow, just that it must get from point A to point B. A call may well be rerouted several times a minute, and you will never know it. Knocking down this system takes more than a few problems  and more than a few power outages. Even if it broke into several subsystems  communications would still be possible from point to point INSIDE the subsystems.

Now the system described above is the national system. Each point would represent a routing center in an area code. Now imagine (I expect you are tired of drawing lines by now) another diagram of perhaps 15 or 20 points, interconnected as above, with threads tied to 5 or 6 of the points. Run these threads to one of the points on the larger diagram. Now you have diagrammed a local service area of a local phone service provider. One or two threads can break and you still are connected to the national system, even if all the threads break you are still connected locally.

Now if you have done as I requested above, you now know the complexity of the system is not its downfall as some claim. It is its salvation. Perhaps a nuclear war or a major meteor strike might knock out enough of the system to destroy it. I cant imagine anything less as doing more than breaking it into several subsystems. And the routing centers have backup power for emergencies  and a lot of other things have been done to protect various parts from natural disaster. And the govt. imposes certain things to make the system safer and more secure  but its real protection against disaster is simply the complex level of interconnectivity inherent in the system itself.

Whew! People ask me why I am not a teacher. Answer: Its hard work!

Anyway, that is why I dont think the communications system is going down. Let me know what you think. Post this message elsewhere if you want to, just leave a message here if you do so I know about it.

---------------just a few BTW remarks ----------------------

A couple of notes here - billing problems can knock off individuals - not the entire system. I can't speak for all the local service providers, but the ones I have hooked up to in KY and TN have always had a human in the termination of service loop. And a human is going to look at an enormous pile of termination notices with a certain skepticism.

A lot of comm equipment is pretty new right now - this is due to the rapid growth of the Internet - and is the proximate cause of the push to set some sort of surcharge for Internet long distance and such. The providers want to get some of that big investment back in a hurry. But new equipment is much less likely to have Y2K bugs - and much in the way of routing equipment and so forth does not care about century dates anyway.

To the Heinlein lovers - yes, I did think about using Heinleins' description of a comm network from 'The Moon is a Harsh Mistress'. But that description, while a somewhat better structural representantion in some ways, is quite complex, and rather difficult to work with. So I went with a flat model instead.

General remark about this type of network - the complexity of a large system is very high. Some unusual things about such networks are known - for example: it is not possible to compute the best route for a message in any reasonable time. A good enough route, easily done, but the shortest route is an extremely hard problem. Many other non-obvious things have been discovered - and many books on the subject are available.


(to do a search for any subject, just inter keyword in the search box)

year-two-thousand e-group - Year-Two-Thousand-y2k-interact-and-info

To subscribe, send an empty message to year-two-thousand-subscribe@makelist.com

-- Cherri (sams@brigadoon.com), May 28, 1999.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ