Revisiting The Merits Of Battery Backup

According to a FierceTelecom article by Sean Buckley, “Verizon says fewer customers are purchasing battery backup for fiber home voice services.” The article describes how Verizon’s FiOS FTTH customers are tending to rely upon their mobile phones to stay on touch during a power outage.

This assertion comes right as the FCC is concerned about CPE remaining powered during an outage, something that cannot be done over fiber as it was over copper. Since customers were not buying traditional battery backup units Verizon has come up with its own solution called PowerReserve.

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Our Two UPS Have Gone Down

Belkin UPSsWe have a pair of uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) on the property. Both are somewhat vintage models from Belkin. A 1000 VA model (F6C1000) in my office rack powers our network core. A smaller, 900 VA model (F6C900) in a central closet, powers those network components that live in the house. Both of them have been misbehaved in recent weeks. At this very moment they are basically non-functional.

I’ve long believed that the network core should survive minor power line irregularities. This belief stemmed in part from our migration to IP-based telephones for home & office. Our phone service should survive a power line bump. With both UPS in their fault-riddled state a loss of line power, even just a power line switching bump, caused our entire network to go down. This situation eventually had to be addressed.

The sealed batteries is consumer UPS such as ours have a fixed lifespan. At a certain point they simply cannot retain a charge, and the device throws an error. From that point onward they become nothing more than an overweight outlet strip.

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The Mythical POTS Advantage: Line Powered Phones

When conversation turns to a debate of VoIP vs POTS one of the common arguments in favor of keeping at least one POTS line is the idea that a plain vanilla phone doesn’t require AC power. It’s power comes down that very same POTS line from the phone company, so in theory  it  remains operational in the case of a power outage. This is fast on the way to becoming a myth.

The idea itself is not wrong. You could have a very plain phone on your POTS line, and it would work during a power outage. However, the simple fact is that at least in the US…almost noone has a simple line powered phone anymore.

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Power To The People: Without Interuption!

Earlier this evening Leo Laporte of TWiT fame tweeted the following:

Power is out in Petaluma. TWiT Live is down until it returns but no ETA. Thank goodness for the iPad 3G. http://j.mp/dt8Oii

I must admit that I am surprised and a little shocked that such an incident would take TWiT Cottage off-line. Leo Laporte is unusual amongst the online media community. His TWiT related endeavors are an unparalleled success. His transformation from traditional to online media is the stuff of future textbooks.

An enterprise such as TWiT should not be taken down by something so simple as a power outage when standby generators are sold at every Lowe’s and Home Depot across the country.

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Power-Over-Ethernet Mythbusting

The .e4 blog has a good new post on power-over-ethernet, which I see as an often overlooked area of SOHO VoIP. It goes into some detail P.O.E. network switches, power management and mid-span P.O.E injectors.

aastra-poe-injecter-350__1_pw183jpgJust last week we suffered a power outage that took down my entire office for about two hours. That is, it took down everything that wasn’t on the UPS. At the time I was on a tech support call with a customer. Happily, my IP650 and all the core network components get UPS power, some via P.O.E.. The UPS power only lasted about 45 minutes, but that was enough to let me resolve my tech support situation.

While some of our larger offices have P.O.E. capable network switches I use a couple of simple single-port mid-span power injectors from Aastra. Why? They’re simply a better, and more cost effective solution for my small office. I only need to power a couple of devices over the ethernet, just my Polycom desk phones. However, I need gigabit ethernet bandwidth in a number of places. POE capable gigabit switches were on the expensive side when last I reworked the office network. In contrast, single port power injectors can be had for around $40 each.

The Day The Electrons Stood Still

It started out an uneventful day, the third day in an entire week that I expected to spend in my home office. That’s something of a rarity in recent times. I was enjoying it, catching up on matters around here, and addressing tech support calls as they arose. I was on just such a call when, to my considerable surprise, the power went out.

The sudden loss of power is not enough to disrupt my phone call beyond my own expression of surprise. As I’ve documented elsewhere, I’ve taken steps to ensure that critical infrastructure around here is on a UPS. To paraphrase Frank Herbert, “The electrons must flow.” In fact, it occurred to me that this afternoon was an opportune time to ascertain just how sound my planning had been.

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