Preparing for Real-Life Disasters

  • AT&T

Hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, flooding, even man-made disasters are all events that have the ability to impact our network and pose unique challenges to people trying to connect with friends and family in the most critical times. To help our customers stay connected and ensure that they have reliable communications after a disaster, our Network Disaster Recovery (NDR) program was formed in 1991.

Since then, the team has deployed network recovery equipment more than 70 times – including responses for Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and Irene in 2011. Most recently, NDR equipment was deployed to Quapaw, Okla. in the aftermath of a damaging tornado, and Darrington, Wash. to help support relief efforts in the aftermath of the devastating mudslide in Oso, Wash.

AT&T NDR disaster preparation exercises

To prepare and practice for these real-life disasters, NDR holds quarterly exercises globally in which our engineers and technicians deploy a fleet of recovery equipment as if there were a real disaster. The next NDR exercise will be held in Chicago, IL in the parking lot of Soldier Field from May 8-15, and will include technology recovery trailers, Satellite Cells on Light Trucks (COLTs), Cells on Light Trailers (mini-COLTs), hazmat response trailers, and a 53-foot command trailer. This will be the team’s 72nd technology recovery exercise conducted in the field— the fourth in the greater Chicago metropolitan area.

At these quarterly exercises, enterprise customers are able to see and walk through the NDR fleet of equipment as part of our Business Continuity/Disaster Recovery (BCDR) forum. Customers are able to learn about how AT&T responds when disasters strike. Most importantly, it allows customers the unique opportunity to experience the equipment and people that make this important connectivity happen.

Customers’ first look at IP-based recovery trailers

Enterprise customers will have the opportunity to tour a new, all-IP based recovery trailer at the exercise. As AT&T moves towards an entirely IP-based network, the NDR program is constantly evolving in order to maintain parity with the exponential growth underway within our overall IP network.

The new IP-based recovery trailers in the NDR fleet are able to handle massive amounts of network traffic and keep pace with customers’ and businesses’ usage patterns — both on our wireless and wireline networks.

The NDR recovery fleet has more than 320 pieces of recovery equipment, including nine trailers dedicated to the restoration of our IP network, as well as high-speed fiber-optic “transport” trailers. These IP recovery trailers support our Common Backbone Network (CBB) with traffic traversing at data rates as high as 100 gigabits. When fully-equipped, the IP trailers can scale up to a capacity of over 15 terabits per second.

Steve Poupos Global Network Operations Director AT&T About Steve