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How Startec Monitors the Switches and DACS in Their International Network

Walid Karim
Walid Karim, NOC Manager at Startec Global Communications.

Startec Global Communications provides innovative, affordable, convenient, and easy-to-use telephone, Internet, and, communications services. Since 1989, Startec has been the leading provider of telephone services to ethnic businesses and consumers in the United States. The company also works with international long-distance carriers and Internet service providers transacting with the world's emerging economies.

"We have a softswitch, a GSP switch, DACSes and Fiber muxes. We're running both TDM & VoIP for the domestic and international calls that we're terminating, including both wholesale and retail traffic."

Monitoring ASCII Text Alarms can be Tricky.

With sites across the US and into Canada, Startec needed an effective way to collect alarms from their DACS units, Fiber-muxes, Sonus softswitch, and GSP switch.

Although the DACS and switching gear output alarms via human-readable ASCII text messages (including TL1 protocol), simply assigning operators to "watch for important alarms" was not a good option. For ASCII text streams with any significant traffic, human operators easily become overloaded, leading to missed alarms and unresolved threats. Even if your operators are perfect, it's still a waste of manpower to have your technicians hovering over long text streams all day.

Startec also wanted to monitor conditions - like temperature and humidity - at several sites. This was not an embedded feature in their existing gear, so they needed a stand-alone box to perform environmental monitoring.

"Any time circuits go down, we'll see those alarms. Whether they are GSP alarms, Soft switch alarms DACS or Fiber mux alarms."

T/mon Diagram
Startec's T/Mon manages alarms sent via ASCII text and TL1 protocol (also ASCII-text-based). It also collects DCP alarms from Startec's NetGuardian RTUs. NetGuardians can alternatively report via SNMP to any SNMP manager.

Startec Did Their Homework and Chose a Solution.

After researching their options, Startec selected a T/Mon master station to collect alarms from their Sonus softswitch, GSP switch, DACS, and TDAX gear. To cover environmentals, they also deployed several NetGuardian 216T and NetGuardian 832A remotes. These NetGuardians report back to the T/Mon master.

Read part 2 of this story to find out how Startec's NOC Manager Monitors the Network.