Solution Providers Recommend Telco Diversity To Guard Against Outages

While outages can’t always be avoided, there are steps that can be taken to protect customers from service disruption, solution providers said in the wake of widespread wired and wireless service outages impacting several major telecom companies Tuesday night.

AT&T, Verizon Wireless, U.S. Cellular, Cricket and T-Mobile wireless and landline customers were affected by the service outages, which lasted for about five hours Tuesday evening. The widespread outages impacted thousands of consumers and businesses in the southeastern and Midwestern U.S., in areas of Kentucky, Alabama, Tennessee and Indiana. Services were restored for all customers by about 9 p.m. Eastern time.

’Depending upon weather, aging gear or bad upkeep, there is always an issue to deal with when working with legacy carriers,’ said Joseph Pedano, senior vice president of cloud engineering for EvolveIP, a cloud services provider and technology partner based in Wayne, Pa.

[Related: The Ten Biggest Cloud Outages of 2015 (So Far)]

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Carriers won’t be able to prevent every outage on their network, but this is where solution providers can step in to help their customers avoid unnecessary downtime, Pedano said.

EvolveIP has specific measures in place to diversify connections to its cloud services for end customers. These measures can route traffic around problem areas or a carrier that might be experiencing outages, Pedano said. End customers can use EvolveiP’s Cloud Connect product, which lets customers use multiple forms of access, including copper, fiber, Ethernet, coaxial and wireless. Cloud Connect bonds these connections together, he said.

’As long as one link is operational, their business is not affected,’ Pedano said. ’This product has proved very effective on allowing customers to diversify their carrier dependency and provide robust uptime.’

The outages Aug. 4 were caused by a hardware-related issue that impacted carrier infrastructure, according to statements from the impacted carriers. U.S. Cellular identified two routers from an unidentified vendor as the source of the problem.

Carceron, an Atlanta-based IT managed services provider, has customers within the areas impacted by Tuesday's outages. However, customers remained unaffected, said Jeffrey Lee, vice president and chief technology officer for the company.

Carceron is a technology partner to a number of carriers, but most often recommends Verizon because of its widespread coverage in the U.S. Many Carceron customers use Comcast for Internet connectivity and don’t rely on T1 lines. Most customers also are using Voice over IP (VoIP) for their telephony needs, so they wouldn’t have been impacted by landline outages, either, Lee said.

To protect from an event such as a hardware-related outage, Carceron recommends that each business customer has two different Internet connections, Lee said. ’We recommend one using Comcast’s business-class cable connections that they can surf off of, and then another technology, like DSL or LTE, from another provider,’ he said. Carceron can then connect the two to a customer’s firewall, which can make decisions on how traffic needs to be routed in the event of an outage or issue, Lee said.

With multiple connections, customers often don’t even realize when one goes down, he said.