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RealTime IT News

AT&T Puts Systems, Workers to the Test

On the heels of this summer's historic blackout and the second anniversary of Sept. 11, AT&T is conducting a three-day network disaster recovery (NDR) exercise beginning today in Boston.

Simulating destruction of a telephone switching center, the test challenges the carrier's workers to restore service as quickly as possible using trucked-in coax and fiber-optic cable or temporary microwave antennas.

"We conduct these exercises to keep our skills sharp, to educate businesses on the need to be prepared with a disaster recovery plan in advance of adversity, and to ensure minimal impact on AT&T business customers," said Frank Ianna, former president of the company's network services division.

Tests are held quarterly, and the skills learned have been called up 13 times for real disasters, including: South Florida's Hurricane Andrew in 1992; the Northridge, Ca. earthquake in 1994; and New York following the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.

AT&T said it has invested more than $300 million in its network disaster recovery program, which includes more than 100 managers, engineers and technicians and a fleet of 150 trucks garaged in strategic locations across the country.

On the infrastructure side, the company last year opened an Internet data center outside Boston, allowing companies to keep their Web sites and applications running.

The carrier monitors and maintains the servers around the clock and transports data over a global Internet protocol backbone. It chose to build near Boston because it considers it a growth area.