Tuesday, December 12, 2006

AT&T's Explosive Growth (coming to a BellSouth DSLAM near you?)

Light Reading magazine has an interesting article about a recent explosion in an AT&T DSLAM cabinet (you know, the big boxes where their fiber to the neighborhood will connect with their copper to the home?).

Here are a few key paragraphs:
AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T - message board) is still searching for the real killer of its Houston DSLAM cabinet, which exploded back in late October, flattening an old man's fence and sending shrapnel hurtling as far away as 50 feet down the street. (See AT&T Investigates DSLAM Explosion.)

"We continue to thoroughly investigate the possible causes of the incident, but it's still too early to speculate on the outcome of our testing," writes an AT&T spokesman, in a reply to Light Reading's inquiries.

The spokesman says AT&T has assembled a strong forensic team and is working with "one of the world's top independent technical analysis firms" to gather evidence and probe the mysterious circumstances surrounding its broadband flambé. He adds that tests are time consuming and the company can't talk about the details of the investigation while it's ongoing.
Typically, the company first pointed the finger at others:
In the early going, AT&T said it would check on all the things that might have caused the explosion. AT&T in November said gas leaks, electrical issues, and vandalism were possible causes.
But, the problem might be related to some of the equipment used in the network itself:
A non-AT&T source close to the investigation says two causes are being vetted carefully these days. The first is a high-resistance short across the battery terminals inside the base of the cabinet. The second is a possible power supply problem with the Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU - message board) DSLAM housed in the cabinet.
Could this problem be bigger than Houston? It's possible:
AT&T apparently does know enough about the explosion's cause to say that the DSLAM cabinet caper is not a network-wide concern.
Officially, AT&T says they've got this under control. They are focused on accomplishing their mission of bringing their customers an over-priced, under-performing broadband experience worthy of 20th Century corporate concepts of connectivity:
"We remain confident in our plans to pass approximately 19 million living units by the end of 2008 as part of our initial deployment."
Get ready. The FCC's clamoring to approve the AT&T merger with BellSouth. The biggest change in Louisiana is going to be that many of BellSouth's former lobbyists are finding new jobs. Was that listed as a benefit of the proposed merger?

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