"All alarming as we knew it had gone by the wayside, so we were looking for a new alarm monitoring and collection system"
Marty Sosa is the Central Office Supervisor for Interbel Telephone in northwestern Montana. Interbel has about 3500 access lines, 3 fiber rings, 1 central office, and 26 remote sites.
A recent infrastructure upgrade left Interbel in need of a new alarm monitoring system. "Our Lucent 5ESS switch used to collect alarms for the DDM2000 network we had going around our SONET rings," Sosa explains. "We have replaced the Lucent 5ESS switch with a MetaSwitch, and we're in the process of replacing all the DDM 2000 equipment with Zhone access equipment."
"Zhone equipment is a broadband digital loop carrier (DLC) that is able to provide dialtone and data," Sosa continues. "It's the access part of the MetaSwitch that provides dialtone the customer. So we provide dialtone and DSL, and all of our dialtone now is VoIP."
Although these infrastructure changes would ultimately improve service quality and overall efficiency at Interbel, they also eliminated the embedded alarm points that were present in the Lucent switch. To avoid losing critical network visibility - and to maintain Interbel's level of customer satisfaction - Sosa knew that they needed a new solution.
"All alarming as we knew it had gone by the wayside, so we were looking for a new alarm monitoring and collection system," he recalls.
"DPS is a good company. It's the company I'd want to work with if I was setting up alarms."
"I've been working for Interbel since March of 2008," said Sosa. "When I arrived, we had one DPS NetGuardian that would receive all the alarms from the Lucent 5E switch and pass them on to VisionNet for after-hours monitoring."
But it wasn't just that single NetGuardian that led Sosa to DPS. He had plenty of previous experience with DPS Telecom.
"Where I worked previously, we deployed virtually all DPS equipment," Sosa recalls. "One of my co-workers couldn't speak enough good about DPS, so I ended up ordering a boatload of equipment."
"From that I experience, I knew that DPS is a good company. It's the company I'd want to work with if I was setting up alarms. So I made the recommendation at Interbel to look at DPS," Sosa explains. "Also, because VisionNet has a T/Mon, it made sense for us to look at DPS."
"We will monitor alarms locally from our T/Mon," says Sosa. "And we will send one of the outputs from our T/Mon to the T/Mon at VisionNet for after-hours monitoring."
"In the daytime, we used to monitor via the Lucent switch. Now, we're looking at migrating and installing new DPS equipment," Sosa explains. "We have installed the T/Mon, two NetGuardians within the Eureka central office, and one NetGuardian 832A G5 down in our farthest location, which is Wolfe Prairie. That's about 40 miles from the central office."
Common alarms monitored at Interbel's sites include environmental alarms, smoke alarms, open-door, AC fail, and fuse alarms.
"We're putting T/Mon out at the farthest location. We want to look at the propane tank there," Sosa says.
"I saw some of the generator timing features and that's brilliant stuff. That'll be a hit with the boss. It lets you know how long the generator's been running.
Monitoring that propane tank is a serious business because it's the backup power supply for Interbel's most valuable site.
"That site is our link to the world. It's our fiber handoff," Sosa explains. "We have power outages there, and you can't get to it in the winter sometimes. If we have a lot of snow, they won't have the roads cleared and that can be out for days. When the power goes out there and the generators kick on, we've got to know the fuel situation."
While attending Factory Training at DPS Telecom HQ in Fresno, California, Sosa learned about new product features that will improve Interbel's visibility over their propane generator fuel levels.
"I saw some of the generator timing features and that's brilliant stuff. That'll be a hit with the boss," Sosa says. "It lets you know how long the generator's been running."
"We get to start from scratch and look at alarms in a whole different way. DPS is the company through which I'd like to see that vision."
As telecom infrastructure continues to evolve, more and more companies will find themselves in the same position as Interbel. Alarm monitoring will vanish as part of a broader upgrade, and you'll be forced to find a replacement.
For Marty Sosa, a big part of the choice was finding a vendor that provided US-based manufacturing and tech support.
"I think you guys have a great product, and I'm glad you kept it here in the States. You didn't go overseas with it," Sosa says.
When you're tasked with selecting a new alarm monitoring system for your company, don't underestimate the opportunity - or the responsibility - that you have to make the right choice.
"We get to start from scratch and look at alarms in a whole different way," Sosa said. "DPS Telecom is the company through which I'd like to see that vision."
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