Telecom is a club fight, and this
By getting a methodical system for troubleshooting any phone service you may have, you can prevent yourself from being misled. Take the keys to the telecom kingdom! Part IV takes the essential pieces of all previous chapters and reassembles them so that you can resolve outbound and toll-free trouble issues. Starting with the basics of troubleshooting and the isolation of the
Using general etiquette
Reviewing types of calls
Focusing on carrier-level problems
Understanding the many types of call
Managing and monitoring your trouble tickets
Troubleshooting international calls and faxes
The one thing I can guarantee about your phone service is that there will be a day when it won’t work. The problem might be minor and short lived, or all encompassing and last for days. If the problem doesn’t affect everyone in your area, the speed at which it’s resolved is based on how quickly you provide accurate information to your carrier. The carrier might be unaware of any problem in your area until you report it.
This chapter covers the structure of the trouble-reporting network within your carrier, to help you understand what information the carrier needs.
I also walk you through the basic information that telecom companies use to isolate problems, including a general overview of all the responsible parties handling a call. I explain how to determine whether you should report a problem as a dedicated or switched issue. Finally, I cover some tips on managing and tracking your issues.
If you aren’t used to dealing with phone problems, it can be a very stressful and frustrating process. These conditions sometimes make people
When you begin troubleshooting a problem, you are under the assumption that something in your phone system isn’t performing at an acceptable level. For example, you might have echo when you call your grandmother or static when you call work. You might not be able to get through to your girlfriend because someone in the world of telecom thinks that her number has been disconnected or is no longer in service. The issue can affect all of your calls, both inbound and outbound, or just outbound calls to a specific city or state. Before you can begin testing a specific issue, you have to narrow down the problem.
When troubleshooting your issues, it’s not your responsibility to correct the problem. Your main responsibility is to accurately report the issue. You can speed the process along by doing some troubleshooting yourself, but
The first step in troubleshooting is to systematically isolate the potential causes and eliminate them one by one. You are aided in this process by simply observing whether the issue affects a variety of calls or just a small group of them. Every type of call, whether it’s inbound to your toll-free number or outbound to a local business, is handled by a different
A switched outbound long-distance call is one of the most basic calls that people make every day. You make this call from a regular phone line, just like the one at your house, to a phone number that is outside of your LATA (Local Access Transport Area), state, or country. The distilled version of the call is represented in Figure 11-1.
Figure 11-1: A switched outbound long-distance call.
You can see in Figure 11-1 how the call starts with your phone system (your phone system may be as simple as a single phone attached to a jack), and then progresses from your local carrier, to your long-distance carrier, to the local carrier that handles the service for the person you are calling, and finally to the phone you are actually calling. This is one of the most basic calls that you make, and probably the type of call that experiences the greatest quantity of issues.
Remember Before you can pinpoint a problem to any variable in the diagram, you need to compare the call to at least one of the remaining five call types.
public switched telephone network,
is a generic
A switched inbound long-distance call is a very helpful call type because it eliminates your long-distance carrier as a potential cause of any issue. The long-distance portion of the PSTN is filled with hardware that routes and maintains the quality of your call. The greater the distance the call must travel through the PSTN, the more hardware is required to maintain the call. More hardware, of course, means that there are more potential points of failure, and so you are more likely to encounter a problem in the 28 or 2,800 miles where your long-distance carrier is handling your call.
As you can see in Figure 11-2, when someone calls directly into your phone system (not using a toll-free number), the caller doesn’t use your long-distance carrier. If you have a problem on both outbound long-distance calls and inbound long-distance calls, you can eliminate your long-distance carrier as the source.
Figure 11-2: A switched inbound long-distance call.
A switched local call uses the same carrier and
Figure 11-3: A switched local call.
You can see in Figure 11-3 that the call
When you dial someone else’s toll-free number, the only piece of the call that you have any responsibility for is your phone system. Your local carrier is responsible for identifying the carrier that receives the traffic, and then your local carrier forwards the call to that network. Figure 11-4 shows the path the call takes when you dial someone else’s toll-free number.
Figure 11-4: Dialing someone else’s toll-free number.
If you have a problem calling someone else’s toll-free number, but all of your other calls work fine, the problem probably has something to do with either the carrier that handles the traffic of the toll-free number, or the local carrier that terminates the call. Identifying which carrier is the problem is covered in the step-by-step troubleshooting section for toll-free
Remember Many companies use the same long-distance carriers. If you use Sprint for your long distance and you dial the toll-free number of a company that also uses Sprint for long distance, you can possibly see a similar problem on your outbound calls. In this case, you should focus on troubleshooting your out-bound long-distance calls on the Sprint network. When Sprint resolves your outbound issue, the toll-free problem for the company you are dialing to will probably also be fixed.
The last switched call type is an inbound call to your toll-free number. The diagram for this call, shown in Figure 11-5, looks quite a bit like Figure 11-1. It includes the same path.
Figure 11-5: Someone dialing your switched toll-free number.
The main aspect that separates a toll-free issue from a regular outbound issue is the fact that the call is being sent to your long-distance carrier based on a database check done by the originating local carrier. Aside from how the call is sent to your long-distance carrier, the path the call takes encountersall the same carriers and hardware it would if you had made an outbound call to the origination number.
You can compare calls over your dedicated circuits with switched calls in order to eliminate your local carrier as a possible source of the problem. Figure 11-6 shows how the local loop of your dedicated circuit
When you report trouble on your dedicated circuit, keep in mind that the local loop is the dedicated section your calls pass through. If you have constant echo, static, dropped calls, or if the entire circuit is completely down, you should refer to your circuit when you open the trouble ticket. If you have any problems that you can duplicate by dialing out on a regular phone line over your carrier’s switched network, such as calls failing to a certain area code, fax completion problems, static, or echo, you should open a trouble ticket with your carrier based on the call from your regular phone line. If the problem exists on both your switched and dedicated calls, but you
assign greater priority to dedicated circuits, but they also push to intrusively test your circuit as the first step in troubleshooting. The
Figure 11-6: Dedicated calling process.
Remember There are only three elements that interact at the individual channel (DS-0) level on a dedicated circuit:
Your channel bank or multiplexer: This is the piece of hardware at your office that breaks the dedicated T-1 circuit down into 24 useable DS-0 circuits that transmit and receive your phone calls.
Your carrier’s switch:
The one piece of hardware in your carrier’s switch that you should be
Echo cancellers: These pieces of hardware eliminate the echo on your phone calls. They may be in your long-distance carrier’s network between the POP and the local carrier, or within the local carrier network.
Figure 11-7: Expanded view of a dedicated call.
In Figure 11-7, you can now see that the local loop begins at your building and ends at the CFA (Carrier Facilities Assignment) point where the local loop enters your long-distance carrier’s network within their POP. (Check out Chapter 8 if you have any question about the CFA point.) The majority of a dedicated call actually isn’t dedicated at all, but is handled by the PSTN, where it’s routed and handled with every other call in your carrier’s network.
Call type diagrams
are great tools when you are troubleshooting. You should record the types of calls you have made and note whether they
Figure 11-8: Comparing the call types in diagram form.
The speed at which a problem is resolved is directly
When troubleshooting, look for similar paths. For example, when you compare the diagrams of the inbound calls and the local calls, you see that there are only two variables in common: your phone system and the network of your local carrier. Local calls are commonly handled by your phone system, your local carrier, and the phone system of whomever you are calling. If you simply call another person in your local area and have the same problem, you can eliminate the hardware of the first person you called as the potential problem. The only two variables left for you to investigate are your phone system and your local carrier.
Every inbound long-distance call that comes from various companies in different sections of the world has its own local and long-distance carrier. Therefore, you can quickly eliminate the other long-distance carrier and the other phone system. The only variables that can possibly be
After you consider the call from your dedicated circuit that did not have the problem, you can eliminate your phone system as a possible source of the issue. As long as you are dialing out from the same phone system over both your dedicated circuit and your switched lines, it’s very
If your problem persists on all your calls, but you’ve narrowed down the source to one of your carriers (eliminating hardware as a source), you can easily locate the issue and make sure that it gets repaired. If the problem doesn’t affect all of your calls, you might need to focus more on the pattern of failures within the carrier.
There are three additional bits of information that can help save time when you open your trouble ticket. Ask the following questions:
Is the issue specific to a time of day?
Your carrier might be sending your calls over an overflow route that isn’t very stable at peak network times between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. If this is the case, the issue might be with a route that isn’t used or
Is the issue
Is the issue intermittent?
If the problem occurs