When Utah independent telco UBTA-UBET bought three Qwest exchanges in 2001, the deal included some extras - Qwest's legacy E2A alarm shelves and former Qwest telemetry tech Rick Hofmann.
After 22 years with Qwest, Hofmann's new job presented him with a tough challenge. How was he going to adapt his RBOC alarm equipment to the operations of a much smaller company? Qwest routed all alarms to a central NOC in Colorado; the lightly-staffed UBTA-UBET needed a local system that would automate alarm monitoring as much as possible.
Hofmann needed more than a technical solution - he needed a whole new way to monitor alarms.RBOC centralized monitoring didn't work well for a small independent
As part of the acquisition deal, Qwest continued to monitor the three exchanges for another year, and Hofmann saw first-hand that RBOC-style centralized management didn't meet UBTA-UBET's needs.
"Qwest monitoring wasn't really workable for us," said Hofmann, who is now plant manager for UBTA-UBET. "Alarms went to the Qwest NOC in Colorado, and they would generate a trouble ticket, decide whether the alarm needed action and then call us. They wanted one point of contact, so we'd have them call our dispatch center, and they would call the tech."
Hofmann's goal was an alarm system that would both support UBTA-UBET's existing equipment and provide tools for the company to effectively monitor alarms on its own.
Getting support for the E2A shelves was important, but simplifying and automating alarm handling was even more important. "Pager notification was my first objective. Support for legacy equipment was second," said Hofmann.
Hofmann listed his five objectives for the new alarm monitoring system:
After surveying the market and looking at how telecom companies had modernized their alarm monitoring, Hofmann decided that an IAM-5 running the T/Mon Remote Alarm Monitoring System best met his objectives.
"T/Mon met all my requirements, while other systems didn't actually meet them all," said Hofmann. "Other systems might be able to do a page, but the notification wouldn't give you any alarm detail. Or they wouldn't expand to do some of the other functions we needed, like SNMP."Results: More effective monitoring of more network elements
Since the T/Mon was installed in 2002, it has met all of Hofmann's objectives:
"The main source of our alarm notification is via email or paging," said central office tech Richard Bell, who now is the primary manager of the T/Mon system. "Which is actually one and the same for us, because the T/Mon sends emails to the techs' cell phone via text messaging. We don't need to have someone physically watch the T/Mon screen all day, and after-hours and weekends, we depend completely on paging."
Legacy E2A Support
UBTA-UBET ordered its T/Mon unit with the optional E2A Interrogator software module and a 202-to-RS232 converter shelf. With these additions, "T/Mon supported the E2A shelves right out of the box," Hofmann said.
Dispatch Center Alarm Access
"The dispatch center can get into the T/Mon system and check alarms every 30 minutes, and make sure that the technicians are working on the problems," said Hofmann.
"The notification of alarms and the detail it gives you is the best thing T/Mon can do for you," said Bell. "Before we had the T/Mon, if a tower light went out, Qwest would call us and all they could say was 'You have a tower light out.' They didn't know where the tower was - there was no way of knowing. Now, when T/Mon pages you, it tells you it's this tower light, at this location, with this longitude and latitude, and then it gives you the FAA's phone number. And with our service area, which is 180 miles in diameter, you want to know what's wrong without wasting time or going on site."
ASCII and SNMP Support
T/Mon's ASCII and SNMP capabilities are helping UBTA-UBET move to a more modern system and monitor more network elements. UBTA-UBET now monitors its switches using T/Mon's ASCII alarm processing, which provides much more detailed alarm notification than major-minor discrete alarms. UBTA-UBET is also gradually implementing SNMP trap processing for new equipment.
In the two years UBTA-UBET has used T/Mon, the company's alarm handling has substantially improved, said Hofmann. "The T/Mon has given us better notification, and I think it's made us a lot more responsive to alarms," Hofmann said.
Hofmann and Bell said they plan to use T/Mon to extend UBTA-UBET's alarm monitoring capability further in the future. Their plans include expanding T/Mon coverage to all of the company's network, implementing analog monitoring of environmentals, upgrading to T/Mon NOC, and using their current IAM-5 as a hot standby unit.
Make Your Own One-Step Upgrade with T/Mon NOC
If you want a smooth upgrade from your legacy alarm equipment, all you need is T/Mon NOC. T/Mon supports over 25 protocols, and easily mediates legacy alarms in E2A, TBOS, TABS and proprietary protocols to SNMP or TL1.
T/Mon NOC gives you complete visibility of your legacy alarms, plus email notification, upgrades to SNMP and ASCII, nuisance alarm filtering, and more
You need to see DPS gear in action. Get a live demo with our engineers.
Download our free Monitoring Fundamentals Tutorial.
An introduction to Monitoring Fundamentals strictly from the perspective of telecom network alarm management.
Have a specific question? Ask our team of expert engineers and get a specific answer!
Sign up for the next DPS Factory Training!
Whether you're new to our equipment or you've used it for years, DPS factory training is the best way to get more from your monitoring.Reserve Your Seat Today