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Telstra kills ZOMBIE BOXES all over Australia

Redundant kit revealed by Warrnambool auto-da-fé

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The fire that took out a major regional exchange last year has inspired Telstra to start building bigger mobile exchanges for future emergencies – and it's also revealed that there's a bunch of redundant hardware still consuming carbon around the country.

The 2012 fire in the Warrnambool exchange showed up various holes in the incumbent carrier's disaster recovery plans.

The carrier had to offer cash rebates to mollify the 60,000 residents, hundreds of businesses, 85 schools, 20 hospitals, 27 police stations, 92 fire stations and 14 State Emergency Service locations that lost both fixed and mobile services (since the exchange also served 80 mobile base stations).

Reconnecting customers took 20 days, sparking an inquiry that set the carrier checking out roof space in big exchanges, and to create specific disaster recovery plans for all Ethernet aggregation points in Australia.

Now, David Plitz, who conducted the original review, has posted an update on what the carrier has learned since the fire – and one of the big surprises is that there's lots of redundant equipment that remains merely because nobody realised it was no longer needed.

He writes: “one of the biggest surprises actually came after we had restored the Warrnambool Exchange to full working order. In the months following the restoration we noticed a significant drop in the consumption of power at the site which was something that we had not been expecting.”

The fire had destroyed obsolete kit in the Warrnambool exchange, which (of course) wasn't replacd in the rebuild. That's led to a carrier-wide program of seeking out zombie kit around Australia, Plitz says, in which tech teams are working to remotely identify and shut down equipment that's not in use.

For now, the zombie boxes will be left where they are, in case they're needed for spare parts.

And the big mobile exchange? Plitz says the “big cat's MEoW” now in construction will have support for 2,000 PSTN lines, 768 ADSL2 services, and three sectors of 850 MHz 3G / 1800 MHz LTE coverage. That, and an extra State Mobilenet Radio Cell on Wheels, are expected to be delivered by the end of this month. ®

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