Saturday, April 5, 2008

Cisco was Right...The Problem Lies with AT&T

We have been having a problem over the past two months with dropped calls at one of our offices. I have had AT&T run several stress tests, replaced Cat5 cables, and even had the hardware vendor, Cisco check the hardware on the voice router (3825). We have been being notified consistently by our network monitoring software (Solarwinds) that the VWIC card was not available. Cisco insisted that they didn't feel like it was a problem with the hardware, so they requested that we have AT&T come out and check the connection between the smart-jack and the VWIC card.

Apparently, when AT&T runs a stress test to check a circuit, they only test from 'A-Z', or as I found (only because I was persistent with my questioning, not because they were forthcoming) only to the 'front side' of the smart-jack. Although the 'back side' of the smart-jack is owned and supported by AT&T, they don't include that in their normal testing process. This is due to the fact that it requires a technician to come on-site. Also, a little fact is, if they don't find any problems with that equipment, they will charge you for the visit.

It turned out that Cisco was right, there wasn't anything wrong with the hardware. Rather, the AT&T technician found that there was a 'bad pair'. It was actually kind of funny, when the tech called he said 'a bad pair can cause problems with a T1'. Really? Since the 'bad pair' was replaced by AT&T, we have not received any alerts from our NMS.

This was a very good exercise for me as I learned many things:
  1. If there is a problem with a VWIC card, connectivity is probably going to be lost for good, not intermittent.
  2. AT&T doesn't like to send technicians on-site, unless they know it is a problem or they know you are going to pay them for the visit.
  3. A bad pair can cause problems with a T1 (I already knew this, but it was nice of AT&T to reinforce this).

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