Central Utah Telephone (CUT) delivers phone, cable TV, and Internet service to rural communities throughout Utah. With a widespread service area, distant remote sites, and long windshield time, CUT depends on network alarm monitoring to manage its far-flung network.
"Alarm monitoring is critical," confirmed Kevin Arthur, a CUT network operations manager. "It takes four hours to travel to two of our main sites, and we have a limited number of technicians."
Because their network monitoring system gives them real-time visibility of problems as they occur, CUT's technicians can schedule repair jobs before disaster strikes - which is essential in a service area where the landscape is rugged and travel times are long.
Arthur offered an example of how network monitoring can prevent disastrous service outages. "Lately we've had a bad string of batteries up on a mountaintop radio site. We can see what's going on with them, and we know we need to send someone up there. If we lost that site, we'd lose a whole city."
The real value of network monitoring can be presented in plain dollars-and-cents terms, Arthur said. Early warnings of problems can prevent expensive equipment losses.
"I'm sure we've saved some money because of our alarm system. I mean, if we had to replace just one card in our switch that was affected by heat or power issues, that's money that would pay for the entire alarm system," Arthur said.
And if alarm collection equipment is not installed at every single remote site, inexpensive problems can become very expensive.
"We were slow to put in alarms at one system," Arthur said. "We had a brand new building, a brand new rectifier, and a brand new switch. Then there was a lightning strike. It blew the rectifiers and the site ran off batteries for 18 hours. We didn't know about it. We had blown cards in the switches because they were running on low voltage."
"If we'd had the KDA installed as part of the initial install, we would have been able to catch that before there was major damage. Some of the damage was because of the lightning strike, but most was from running on low batteries. And when you have to pay $5,000 for each blown card ... I was sold on alarming after that," Arthur said.
"DPS is not one of those companies that points the finger at you when you need help. They'll help you track down the problem. They don't just tell you, 'It's your problem,'"
Kevin Arthur - Central Utah Telephone
Central Utah Telephone meets its needs for real-time visibility with KDA 864 remote telemetry units and the T/Mon NOC network alarm management system. KDAs at remote sites monitor switches, line equipment, TL1 transport, fire system alarms, temperature alarms and door alarms. The alarm information collected is sent back to the IAM-5 at CUT's central office.
"What I like about the IAM-5 is how easy it is to use," said Arthur. "You can get around in the interface pretty easy."
Because network monitoring is so important to Central Utah Telephone's operations, Arthur is look for ways to add more capabilities to his network alarm monitoring system and use it more effectively.
"Using paging and paging over e-mail has been our biggest improvement," Arthur said. "We have paging alerts for everything from power outages to switch alarms. Every major alarm is paged to all central office technicians.
Arthur recently got some new ideas for making his monitoring better by attending a DPS Telecom Factory Training Event. Arthur said that seeing the wide range of capabilities available for advanced network reliability management has given him a new wish list of changes he'd like to make in his network monitoring.
"Factory training was a good overview of everything DPS Telecom does, and everything the equipment can do."
Whether you're new to DPS Telecom network monitoring equipment or you've used it for years, DPS factory training is the best way to get more from your monitoring - a practical, hands-on course where you'll learn from the same engineers and technicians who designed and built your network reliability management system.
At some point, Arthur said, he'd like to replace his KDA units with NetGuardians and his current dedicated line transport with IP connectivity.
"IP is easier. You can get different paths up in no time, and it works better with dial-up switching," Arthur said. "I can get a KDA up in half an hour. But if I have to run a dedicated line to the site ... it's going to possibly take days to get that circuit out to the site."
Arthur said he also wants to monitor his switches using the IAM-5's ASCII alarm processor. "With ASCII, I'd like to get much more specific alarms. Right now our switch will print out 'Major' or 'Minor.' If I'm going to be paged in the middle of the night, I want to know the specifics: which site, which switch, and which card, so I know whether it's worth it to go check it out."
Arthur said there are a few small sites in the CUT network that are still not monitored; in the future he plans to install the new NetGuardian 216 at these sites.
Arthur said the quality of DPS Telecom support matches the quality of the equipment.
"DPS is not one of those companies that points the finger at you when you need help. They'll help you track down the problem. They don't just tell you, 'It's your problem,'" said Arthur.
If you want to protect your network against the dangers of service outages and equipment loss, the ideal tool is the new T/Mon NOC. The most advanced T/Mon hardware ever, T/Mon NOC is 2-4 times faster than the IAM-5 or T/MonXM WorkStation and is fully compatible with your existing T/Mon database.
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