When The Lights Go Down

A couple of days ago Garrett Smith posted on his blog entry stating, “One More Reason Pure VoIP is Not The Way to Go.” He goes on to describe a weather event that took out his power, internet access, and therefore his VOIP service.

I was born in the Niagara Region on the Canadian side of the border. I lived for 15 years in Toronto as well as 10 years in deep Northern Ontario. I’ve known winter in all its majesty.

In my former life as a kite enthusiast I made the drive from Buffalo, NY to Erie, PA through many a winter storm. And they certainly do get blasted from time-to-time in that part of the country.

Garrett didn’t go into the specifics of what was out. Apparently he lost his internet access. What sort of internet access he has we don’t know. However, a loss of power for whatever reason need not cause the loss of your VOIP service. In my experience if your phone line is still up then your DSL is likely also still up. Presuming you use DSL, if your phone line is down then your IP connectivity is most certainly lost as well. Maybe not if you use a cable modem.

Plan ahead. Provide a UPS to power your network devices. For around $100 you can sustain your VOIP service just like a traditional POTS line. Consider power-over-ethernet for SIP desk phones and wifi access points.

The trouble is that with a traditional POTS line you don’t have to think about this. It’s assumed. If you go wholly VOIP it becomes your responsibility, not unlike what the telco calls the “inside wiring” on a traditional phone line. So think ahead.

The title of this post is taken from the lyric of an old Triumph song.