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  1. #1
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    Trouble making calls today? Probably from earthquake in northeast

    There was an earthquake in Virginia not too long ago.

    The cell phone service is overloaded (according to the news guy and my experience).

    I was able to get through after several calls. I couldn't called a Comcast landline (something is wrong with the service) but I was able to call a Virgin Mobile phone. It took several tries. After we hung up it took me a while to call back.

    I called from a Vonage landline to a Comcast landline and couldn't get through. After I was on the phone with her, five minutes later, her phone rang (after I had already hung up). That was weird.

    So, if you can't get through, just keep trying. If you can't get through on a cell phone, try a landline. You might also get through by text messaging instead.

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  3. #2
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    Yeah it sucked for those manning switches in the area too. You can never plan for these types of scenario's but when they happen the best those working it can do, is try and re-allocate what resources they can, and hope for the best. I live in DC and this was the first time I ever witnessed a mass calling event taking it's toll on the infrastructure.

    The company I work for had no failures from the actual quake, since it was pretty tame to be honest. But the surge of phone calls immediately afterwards caused congestion in every possible way. This is in terms of RF(Tower/Mobile communication) as well as hardware in the switch. Obviously we set new records in call quantity, CPU high water marks (Can't get any higher than 100%) and signalling/messaging.

    I was on a conference call for three hours right after it, trying to talk with vendors and our own company's highly trained support to come up with a plan to try and lower the impact. Meanwhile everyone I know was trying to call me to see if I was alright, so I had to answer to let them know yes, and immediately act like a dick saying I did not have time to talk

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    Quote Originally Posted by monty View Post
    Yeah it sucked for those manning switches in the area too. You can never plan for these types of scenario's but when they happen the best those working it can do, is try and re-allocate what resources they can, and hope for the best. I live in DC and this was the first time I ever witnessed a mass calling event taking it's toll on the infrastructure.

    The company I work for had no failures from the actual quake, since it was pretty tame to be honest. But the surge of phone calls immediately afterwards caused congestion in every possible way. This is in terms of RF(Tower/Mobile communication) as well as hardware in the switch. Obviously we set new records in call quantity, CPU high water marks (Can't get any higher than 100%) and signalling/messaging.

    I was on a conference call for three hours right after it, trying to talk with vendors and our own company's highly trained support to come up with a plan to try and lower the impact. Meanwhile everyone I know was trying to call me to see if I was alright, so I had to answer to let them know yes, and immediately act like a dick saying I did not have time to talk
    I always enjoy your posts. I must say, you're one of the most knowledgeable people I know when it comes to the cellular network.

    I know we talked about data capacity before, but what is voice capacity like? How many calls can one antenna hold at one time? How many antennas are usually on one tower? I'm guessing the capacity varies per location, right?

    Also, with three-way calling and text messaging, how does that work? Let's say you say 10 people can be talking at one time (just a guess), does that mean nobody can send text messages and do three-way calling? I'm not sure how that works.

    I'm glad you're alright.

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    Please do not consider me knowledgeable. I deal with and depend on people way more knowledgeable than I day to day to dare try and claim that level of expertise.

    With that said, voice capacity in cdma varies on a lot of things, first off because of the encoding used its much higher than you may think for a tower with a single t1 (voice only, in my equipment 3G and voice are segregated on different backhaul from the t1 to the switch). The typical buildout antenna wise is three sectors, Alpha, Beta, Gamma or in shorthand it's X, Y, Z. I do not know the actual call limit per sector, since that's more important than site. This is because many towers can have one antenna facing a residentual area, while the others may just be facing highway's. If it's all on the same band, each sector will likely use the same antenna, but if you are using multiple bands, such as some hybrid solutions which may use PCS and AWS each band would need it's own antenna's for obvious reasons. Anyways, for what it's worth I have seen some sites serve 70 or more calls on a single t1.

    I do not know much about SMS across the RF side of things, I am pretty sure its broadcast against the paging channel in the paging zone last known that the subscriber was in. I do not think the base station sets up a private channel for the mobile. This is likely why when you transfer esn's over to a new phone, the old one will still get copies for some time. I noticed this a lot in cleveland when I worked for revol and swapped my phone around.

    Three way calling I can detail with a bit more knowledge. When you hit send and dial another number, the tower itself is not doing any of the work of combining the call. In my switch it swaps the original callers over to another trunk group to the same equipment that normally is just used for playing the pre-recorded messages, we call these media servers. Then when all parties are grouped together, it just multiplexes everyones voice and sends the audio out through the trunks coming into it. The tower is none the wiser to what you just did.

    Now to answer your question, people in a call utilize resources, which at different stages of the call can share and block, and others not. for instance when I talked about the paging channel, that is the rf area of the tower that is specifically assigned to notify mobiles that they have a call or text. Once that mobile gets that message, it will talk back and set up the call. Once that customer is in a call and talking, the paging channel is done and can be re-used. Like I said before, I think text messaging uses this channel too, but to deliver the entire text, without setting the mobile up on a private channel. The issue we had today was because it was such an ungodly amount of calls attempting to be setup, that some messages were being missed due to other calls trying to set up. Since too many are occuring, some will send a request but miss the reply, and need to resend which blocks more calls which are trying to set up at the same time.

    Think of the paging channel as you in a room with a bunch of people, but only a few talking. Its purpose is so you can enter enter to tell your friend to go out to another room to start a conversation. easily done when only a few others are also asking their friends. Suddenly, lets say an earthquake happens > now everyone is screaming to their friend. That room becomes loud and very few manage to get their friends attention. This is a rare case scenario, but as we seen it can happen.

    This is all the stuff that caused problems around DC today. If you had issues and were not in the area, or trying to call that area you would have seen a secondary issue. Likely a trunk group, likely a long distance group, or tandem group (which is just an intermediate handler of a call, not the origin nor destination) get filled up by people involved and blocked others.

    Hope I answered some of your questions. I tend to ramble.

  6. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by monty View Post
    Please do not consider me knowledgeable. I deal with and depend on people way more knowledgeable than I day to day to dare try and claim that level of expertise.

    With that said, voice capacity in cdma varies on a lot of things, first off because of the encoding used its much higher than you may think for a tower with a single t1 (voice only, in my equipment 3G and voice are segregated on different backhaul from the t1 to the switch). The typical buildout antenna wise is three sectors, Alpha, Beta, Gamma or in shorthand it's X, Y, Z. I do not know the actual call limit per sector, since that's more important than site. This is because many towers can have one antenna facing a residentual area, while the others may just be facing highway's. If it's all on the same band, each sector will likely use the same antenna, but if you are using multiple bands, such as some hybrid solutions which may use PCS and AWS each band would need it's own antenna's for obvious reasons. Anyways, for what it's worth I have seen some sites serve 70 or more calls on a single t1.

    I do not know much about SMS across the RF side of things, I am pretty sure its broadcast against the paging channel in the paging zone last known that the subscriber was in. I do not think the base station sets up a private channel for the mobile. This is likely why when you transfer esn's over to a new phone, the old one will still get copies for some time. I noticed this a lot in cleveland when I worked for revol and swapped my phone around.

    Three way calling I can detail with a bit more knowledge. When you hit send and dial another number, the tower itself is not doing any of the work of combining the call. In my switch it swaps the original callers over to another trunk group to the same equipment that normally is just used for playing the pre-recorded messages, we call these media servers. Then when all parties are grouped together, it just multiplexes everyones voice and sends the audio out through the trunks coming into it. The tower is none the wiser to what you just did.

    Now to answer your question, people in a call utilize resources, which at different stages of the call can share and block, and others not. for instance when I talked about the paging channel, that is the rf area of the tower that is specifically assigned to notify mobiles that they have a call or text. Once that mobile gets that message, it will talk back and set up the call. Once that customer is in a call and talking, the paging channel is done and can be re-used. Like I said before, I think text messaging uses this channel too, but to deliver the entire text, without setting the mobile up on a private channel. The issue we had today was because it was such an ungodly amount of calls attempting to be setup, that some messages were being missed due to other calls trying to set up. Since too many are occuring, some will send a request but miss the reply, and need to resend which blocks more calls which are trying to set up at the same time.

    Think of the paging channel as you in a room with a bunch of people, but only a few talking. Its purpose is so you can enter enter to tell your friend to go out to another room to start a conversation. easily done when only a few others are also asking their friends. Suddenly, lets say an earthquake happens > now everyone is screaming to their friend. That room becomes loud and very few manage to get their friends attention. This is a rare case scenario, but as we seen it can happen.

    This is all the stuff that caused problems around DC today. If you had issues and were not in the area, or trying to call that area you would have seen a secondary issue. Likely a trunk group, likely a long distance group, or tandem group (which is just an intermediate handler of a call, not the origin nor destination) get filled up by people involved and blocked others.

    Hope I answered some of your questions. I tend to ramble.
    I might need to read this through a few times. I might reply with some questions.

    Thank you!

  7. #6
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    Go ahead and shoot when you do. I will reply.

    In the mean time, I would like to apologize to everyone for derailing this thread and would like to hear from anyone else's experience during this time. I learned a lot, and I hope others could share what they seen.

 

 

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