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Old 05-02-2019, 12:48 PM
Olefin Olefin is offline
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Default Telephone Networks (and alternate uses for them)

One thing that is mentioned repeatedly in the modules is the breakdown of communications that would occur in T2K after the war went nuclear. One thing that has been overlooked is the fact that the telegraph network in the US and elsewhere would have still been in existence and could be used, at least domestically, to maintain communications between various areas.

There would be breakages in the network of course - the biggest issue would be the lack of trained operators. However there were a lot of people who still knew Morse alive in the 1995-2001 time period. Heck I learned it when I was a Boy Scout. I could see how it could be used in the game to try to relay orders, report scouting, even where a GM has the players sent out to repair a break in the lines.

Not sure if any discussion of if the telegraph system is being used was ever brought up here. I do know that there were still telegraphs being sent in the real timeline up until the mid 2000's
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Old 05-02-2019, 01:30 PM
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It's an interesting concept, one that I haven't ever considered- because I didn't think the telegraph was in use in the 1990's (or '80's even). How realistic is it, though?

How extensive was the pre-2000 telegraph network? Who used it, how often, and what for?

Even if a widespread telegraph network existed c. 1997, or could be brought up and running after the TDM, it would still be very vulnerable to disruption. During the American Civil War, both sides routinely cut telegraph cables and/or cut down telegraph poles. All you need is an axe.
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Old 05-02-2019, 01:37 PM
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Western Union was still using it for wire transfers up until the late 2000's and the as late as 2006 they were still sending 20,000 actual telegrams a year in the US. India still had an extensive network as late as 2013.

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/last-te...-sent-july-14/

The wires are still there for sure in the mid-90's to 2000 time frame for the V1 and V2.2 - they were never taken down in many places. The question is how many breaks would there be and getting trained operators. Its actually one thing that the producers of Independence Day were surprised to find out - i.e. that the idea of the military communicating by telegraph in the movie was actually factual.
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Old 05-02-2019, 01:52 PM
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most likely the network would have gaps in it for sure - i.e. there is no way the wires that were still standing survived nukes going off and the general lack of maintenance that happened after the TDM would have not helped the situation - but there would still be remaining wires that could be used, especially in areas that didnt have a lot of damage from nukes - plus of all the things that you would think people would loot old phone wire and ceramic insulators arent very high on that list

FYI I havent looked at other countries - does anyone know the status of any networks in Australia or the UK for instance in the mid to late 90's?

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Old 05-02-2019, 02:35 PM
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We need to be clear here, there are NO telegraph lines in America in 2000. Western Union (and everyone else) are sending those telegrams over the ANALOG phone lines. The important thing to remember about Analog Phone Systems is that they carry a small electric charge to power the various analog phones tied to the system. This is why analog phones still work when the power goes out. Those phones WOULD BE DAMAGED by an EMP effect because of the large surge of power that came through the lines. Other analog phones could easily escape that damage if they weren't physically connected to the grid when the EMP hit. Thousands of phones sitting on store shelves would be perfectly serviceable. In addition, FIELD TELEPHONES are also analog and are DESIGNED to be used with the civilian telephone grid. Since a field phone has batteries to generate the small electric charge needed to carry the signal, you could hook one straight to a "dead" (ie unpowered) phone line and STILL USE IT. Once you fixed the line's surge protection that was damaged by EMP (much easier than laying telegraph lines), there is NOTHING stopping you from powering the lines with a portable generator (the system requires a very small amount of voltage) and using civilian phones just like normal. It may take a while to get the civilian grid running again but it is NOT a very difficult proposition at all.
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Old 05-02-2019, 02:43 PM
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Here's a little info PA puts out in defense of the tax they put on phone companies to subsidize rural phone networks.

75% of PA's rural communities still have analog phone lines. These systems are integrated into the digital phone grid using digital converters housed in the old "switch houses" located in small towns and rural areas.

Our "switch house" (owned by AT&T) is a 20ft square block building located near the town of Conneaut Lake. This is also the source of power for the analog lines as there is 220 coming into the building and you can hear the step-down converter's fan running all of the time (cooling the whole system no doubt).
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Old 05-02-2019, 02:59 PM
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I have seen old telegraph poles standing by rail lines in the North East and South - are those using analog phone lines or are they still the old telegraph lines?

So given that information Swaghauler the disruption in communications is more the disruption in satellite communications and digital phones - but analog phones would still work (as long as there werent breaks in the phone lines themselves)

that would mean that at least locally and regionally you should be able to still communicate as long as you working analog phones
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Old 05-02-2019, 03:03 PM
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so given that information this thread should be called analog telephone networks or communication then - would that be a better description of what I was trying to say as to how communications would be possible even after the TDM?
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Old 05-02-2019, 03:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Olefin View Post
I have seen old telegraph poles standing by rail lines in the North East and South - are those using analog phone lines or are they still the old telegraph lines?

So given that information Swaghauler, the disruption in communications is more the disruption in satellite communications and digital phones - but analog phones would still work (as long as there weren't breaks in the phone lines themselves)

that would mean that at least locally and regionally you should be able to still communicate as long as you working analog phones
The disruption occurs from THREE sources...

1) Fried telephones that got surged when the EMP came down the lines. This partially saves the lines because the telephone "grounds out" the surge. The phone is killed but the line will be spared as a result of this grounding. This is why you are advised to NEVER talk on an analog telephone during a lightning storm. YOU ARE THE GROUND!

2) Loss of grounding in periodic junctures along the line. Since the lines carry a small electric charge to power the phones, there are grounds every so many miles as well as booster stations to keep the current flow steady. These would be "shorted" during a power surge. In fact, they sort of act like "surge suppressors" by channeling excess voltage out of the system to mitigate damage.

3) Switching Stations. These replaced the old "operator system" with computerized switching that allowed you to call regionally or nationally. These stations also contained the power boosters to keep the lines current stable. These would be HEAVILY DAMAGED by EMP due to the number of phone lines coming in and the fact that many switchers were already operating at or above recommended capacities to provide the needed communication services. Here is where the real work would be.

A typical phone system will have one switching/booster substation and perhaps three or four connector boxes (which also act as boosters) in a 10-mile radius. You've probably seen the boxes situated along the road near intersections. They are about 3ft tall by 4ft wide and collect the lines coming from side roads before sending a larger line up the pole they are mounted on
Some have no visible pole because the lines are underground. This commonly done in cities. In fact, cities may place the switching/booster stations and the lines in underground vaults. PGH PA does this as well as Cleveland and Philly.

I hope that helps

Swag.
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Old 05-02-2019, 03:41 PM
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An interesting module or plot could revolve around either trying to "tap" an analog line to listen into enemy comms or capturing (or rebuilding) a switching station to provide commo for your own forces. These could become valuable strategic targets in a high ECM environment.
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Old 05-02-2019, 03:48 PM
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Don't forget the Army's "phone company" either. Some of you may have heard of DISCCOM units. These units had 20ft connex boxes that were set up just like switching stations to manage communications in a Brigade or Group setting. Mobile versions were mounted on 5-Ton Trucks and Hummers. These systems used a human operator but were responsible for managing both "phone traffic" AND radio traffic between large numbers of units. They were also responsible for laying and managing the miles of commo wire that supported large operations. These units could easily connect to civilian phone systems when needed.
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Old 05-02-2019, 03:52 PM
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So if I am reading what you are saying correctly basically local service should work as long as you have an analog phone and possible from town to town if they were close together even without repairs. I assume the grounding boxes would be relatively easy to fix versus the switching stations

And if you went back to manual operators you could place longer calls but only with an established network of such operators. If not you would need to replace the computer switching stations for sure to be able to get regional or long distance phone calls working.

Would this be the same for using a telegraph key - ie lower amount of data being transmitted - would that make any difference or in reality itís the same amount of effort as restoring phone service and thus not really any advantage?
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Old 05-02-2019, 04:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Olefin View Post
So if I am reading what you are saying correctly basically local service should work as long as you have an analog phone and possible from town to town if they were close together even without repairs. I assume the grounding boxes would be relatively easy to fix versus the switching stations

And if you went back to manual operators you could place longer calls but only with an established network of such operators. If not you would need to replace the computer switching stations for sure to be able to get regional or long distance phone calls working.

Would this be the same for using a telegraph key - ie lower amount of data being transmitted - would that make any difference or in reality it’s the same amount of effort as restoring phone service and thus not really any advantage?
Correct. The switching system replaced the old human operators who connected calls into the '80s in some places. Humans can be used to replace the computerized switchers. You could use a TELEX system if you choose to with analog lines. The TELEX is that streaming system that TYPED out messages coming over the phone lines. TELEX paper or "ticker tape" was often thrown out windows during parades. It actually produced text messages before text messages were a thing!

Just remember that analog phones need both a continuous grounded line and a low wattage power source to transmit the messages (verbal or typed). This is WHY there are 2 D-Cell batteries in a field telephone. They provide the power needed to communicate up to 5km with just one phone's power. DISCCOMs can power the equivalent of a city-sized system.

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Old 05-02-2019, 06:47 PM
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Opens up all kinds of ideas for adventures to either repair phone lines or get a switchboard back up so that you can restore communications in an area - and of course run into people who might not want that to happen especially if they have a vested interest in keeping people in the dark
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Old 05-02-2019, 07:48 PM
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One small point. With the computerisation/automation of the telephone system, just how much of the equipment necessary to switch back to human operators still exists?
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Old 05-02-2019, 09:00 PM
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Human based operators still exist - basically think of anywhere you call and you get a human being who then connects you internally the right extension instead of automatic dialing systems. A lot of companies still have receptionists who function as operators connecting you with the right people internally.

It wouldnt be as efficient for sure and you wouldnt be able to handle anywhere near the volume of calls that a computer system can handle - but it would definitely allow, for instance, MilGov or CivGov to use human operators at switching stations to make phone calls where the lines were still intact.

Thats where the DISCCOM units come into play with the human operator switching stations that can connect to civilian phone systems when needed.

The real limitations would probably be the ability to generate power for operating the phones and switching stations. The more power you can generate the more phones and switching stations would work - the less power you have the more likely you have something like the town phone where there is one phone working.
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Old 05-02-2019, 09:12 PM
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Quote:
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Human based operators still exist - basically think of anywhere you call and you get a human being who then connects you internally the right extension instead of automatic dialing systems.
Only place I've ever encountered that is internal communications within a office building or the like. Even then, that was just a case of the caller being too lazy to look up the number for themselves and letting the switchboard operator do it for them and then transfer the call (using the computerised system).
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Old 05-02-2019, 09:46 PM
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There are several companies that supply my company with parts and fabrications that if you call them you get a live operator not a computer who then connects you with who you want to talk to - they are getting fewer and further between but back in the 90's it was still very common to have that be the case.

Back in the 90's a lot of Army bases were still using consoles that had just recently replaced switchboards - example is the article I am attaching - Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson

They used a wire switchboard until 1991 and then switched to a manual console which was still in use during the V1/V2.2 timeline period - the switch to computers didnt happen till later.

https://www.jber.jb.mil/News/News-Ar...e-switchboard/
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Old 05-02-2019, 09:52 PM
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http://militarynewbie.com/wp-content...ems-SS0029.pdf

This is from a 1994 US Army Tactical Telephone manual

This would be the type of Equipment that the Army would be using to try to keep phone service going for their units - notice I didnt say for civilians - but it would be enough as you can read to allow MilGov and CivGov, where the lines are functional, to maintain telephone contact with their units.

2. Types of switchboards.

a. Tactical switchboards are divided into two major groups-manual battery and common-battery equipment. At brigade level and up, we find common-battery equipment housed in mobile units.

b. The mobile units get prewired and designed to accommodate the equipment needed for the mission. The shelter has cable receptacles for connecting the 26-pair field cables. They usually contain electrical heaters to warm the personnel and equipment during cold weather. A trailer-mounted power generating unit provides electrical power to the shelter. The next few sub-paragraphs examines the different switchboards found in the field.

(1) SB-993/PT is 6-line analog 2-wire manual switchboard, capable of supporting a maximum of six local-battery telephone circuits or six trunk circuits. (See Appendix A, Figure A-9.) 1-3 SS 0029

(2) SB-22/PT and SB-22A/PT are tactical manual switchboards They can provide service to 12 local-battery telephone circuits. The operator can stack two SB-22s to support up to a 29-circuit system. To support 29 subscribers, the operator must remove the operator pack from the second SB-22. He then
installs a 5-line pack. To interface with the automatic switches, the operator must install a TA-997/PT or tone-signaling adapter. No operator intervention is required when using the tone-signaling adapter.
(See Appendix A, Figure A-10.)

(3) SB-3082(V) /GT can service up to 50 telephone circuits. The SB-3082 can be mounted on a 1/4-ton truck or in a shelter. The operator can set up a conference call for up to six subscribers. The switchboard has an emergency power system. The emergency power system runs on two 12-volt batteries. In addition, the switchboard brings a battery charger for recharging the emergency system. (See Appendix A, Figure A-11.) The picture below is an SB-3082

(4) AN/TTC-38 can interconnect 300 or 600 telephone circuits. We can find the AN/TTC-38 deployed in an area communications center (ACC). The AN/TTC-38 is all analog. The primary telephones used with the AN/TTC-38 are the TA-341, TA-838, and the TA-938. Today, we find most
of the AN/TTC-38s still in service with the Reserve Component units. (See Appendix A, Figure A-14.)

(5) AN/TTC-39A and AN/TTC-39D can service 600 or 672 trunks depending on the model on hand. The AN/TTC-39A provides, for the first time, the capability of miring analog and digital service. It can interface with existing tactical switches (manual and automatic), commercial central offices, and
Defense Switched Network (DSN). In addition, the AN/TTC-39A and AN/TTC-39D can interface with North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) telephone systems. We find the AN/TTC-39D at EAC. (See Appendix A, Figures A-15a through A-15d.) The AN/TTC-39A is found in Army Reserve EAC
units, Air Force units, and the Joint Communications Support Element.

(6) AN/TTC-41 and AN/TTC-41A is an automatic switchboard. The AN/TTC-41 comes in several models. The AN/TTC-41(V) 1 can service up to 30 subscribers; the models V2 and V5 can service up to 60 subscribers; the models V3 and V6 can service up to 90 subscribers; and the AN/TTC41A (V) 4 and 7 can service up to 120 subscribers. (See Appendix A, Figure A-16.) The AN/TTC-41A can interface with the DSN and dial central offices (DCOs). The switchboard is capable of providing 2- or 4-wire service.

(7) AN/TTC-46 or large extension node (LEN) switchboard has basically the same configuration as the node center switch (NCS)(AN/TTC-47). The basic difference is the termination configuration for trunks and loops. The LEN doctrinally is deployed in support of the division support command
(DISCOM) in an MSE division. It can support a total of 164 subscribers using J-1077 and remote multiplexer combiners (RMCs). (See Appendix A, Figures A-17a and A-17b.)

(8) AN/TTC-47 or NCS is the hub of the MSE node. The AN/TTC-47 provides network interface for the subscriber access elements. The AN/TTC-47 provides automatic subscriber finding, deleting the need for knowledge of the subscribers' geographical location. (See Appendix A, Figures A18a and A-18b.)
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Old 05-03-2019, 08:33 AM
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When surges occur on civilian phone lines back in last century the 'scissors' up in the transformers blow off. You have to physically climb up there and push them back in.
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Old 05-03-2019, 08:45 AM
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When surges occur on civilian phone lines back in last century the 'scissors' up in the transformers blow off. You have to physically climb up there and push them back in.
As was said earlier - you would need the lines in operation first - again a nice adventure there where you are sent out to guard the people putting the lines back in operation or manning a switching station

Most likely there would have been repairs done to the lines in 1998 as much as possible before things started to go to hell - i.e. per both V1 and V2.2 there was an attempt to repair damage and get things put back together while there was still fuel left and electricity being generated. They would have concentrated on getting lines back up to things like military bases, hospitals, critical war production centers, refineries, etc.. - so a lot of the country wouldnt have gotten fixed in that time.

By 2000 repairing the lines in general would be something you would see for sure around Colorado Springs and Western NY where there is still power being generated in order to show that civilization was being restored - even if a lot of the rest of the country was anarchy
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Old 05-03-2019, 04:32 PM
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AT&T's Long Lines microwave relays should also be mentioned here. While they were being phased out in the 90s (in our world) in favor of fiber optic lines, in the T2K timelines they would have likely remained operational much longer. Many Long Lines sites were blast and EMP resistant structures meant to survive a nuclear exchange. Many sites had blast-resistant antennas made out of concrete like this one:



MilGov and CivGov would definitely be interested in capturing and maintaining these microwave sites as they could be used in place of long distance copper or fiber optic lines damaged in the TDM. As long as a local transceiver could hit a relay any landlines connected to that transceiver could reach as far as the relay network.

Analog telephones are interesting in that they're relatively simple and connecting two phones in a semi-automated fashion is fairly simple. Replacing an automated central office with manual operators is a cost/resource hurdle more than a technological one. A switch board is a pretty simple electrical device to build and phone lines are simple DC circuits. Building out a telephone network would be well within the capability of MilGov or CivGov and any relatively well resourced local government.

Telegraphs are even simpler than telephones and a small DC current can power a fairly long line. You can put together everything you need for a wired telegraph out of easily scavenged parts (even if the original devices were rendered inoperable by an EMP). Remember both of these were invented and commercialized in the 19th century before transistors or microelectronics. Since the principals are well known and understood they don't need to be reinvented or rediscovered, just reimplemented.
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Old 05-03-2019, 08:27 PM
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AT&T's Long Lines microwave relays should also be mentioned here. While they were being phased out in the 90s (in our world) in favor of fiber optic lines, in the T2K timelines they would have likely remained operational much longer. Many Long Lines sites were blast and EMP resistant structures meant to survive a nuclear exchange. Many sites had blast-resistant antennas made out of concrete like this one:



MilGov and CivGov would definitely be interested in capturing and maintaining these microwave sites as they could be used in place of long distance copper or fiber optic lines damaged in the TDM. As long as a local transceiver could hit a relay any landlines connected to that transceiver could reach as far as the relay network.

Analog telephones are interesting in that they're relatively simple and connecting two phones in a semi-automated fashion is fairly simple. Replacing an automated central office with manual operators is a cost/resource hurdle more than a technological one. A switch board is a pretty simple electrical device to build and phone lines are simple DC circuits. Building out a telephone network would be well within the capability of MilGov or CivGov and any relatively well resourced local government.

Telegraphs are even simpler than telephones and a small DC current can power a fairly long line. You can put together everything you need for a wired telegraph out of easily scavenged parts (even if the original devices were rendered inoperable by an EMP). Remember both of these were invented and commercialized in the 19th century before transistors or microelectronics. Since the principals are well known and understood they don't need to be reinvented or rediscovered, just reimplemented.
I can SO see somebody sanctioning a raid on a facility like that. I'm guessing the range on those must be close to 1000 kicks.
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Old 05-03-2019, 08:37 PM
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I believe that reestablishing local phone service would be a priority for ANY force establishing a base. The value in the ability to pick up a phone and just call your forward deployed forces several klicks away CANNOT be overestimated. I could see a place like Krakow having such an advantage and using it to the fullest. The city would know WITHIN MINUTES if a large force were approaching the city. If a given section of the city were in danger of being breached, a phone call to HQ beats even a horse riding courier any day. The reduced response times alone merit the resources needed when establishing a FOB.
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Old 05-03-2019, 08:40 PM
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I can bet that not one of the original canon authors had the knowledge of how easy it would be to restore some kind of phone service. There is a good possibility that none of them were in the Signal Corps and knew about things like how the Army could use their field switchboards to hook up to civilian lines to restore service. And if you have phone service then you have at least regional communication which would go a long way towards helping to keep the country together even in a Howling Wildness situation.

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Old 05-04-2019, 06:22 PM
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The disruption occurs from THREE sources...

1) Fried telephones that got surged when the EMP came down the lines. This partially saves the lines because the telephone "grounds out" the surge. The phone is killed but the line will be spared as a result of this grounding. This is why you are advised to NEVER talk on an analog telephone during a lightning storm. YOU ARE THE GROUND!

2) Loss of grounding in periodic junctures along the line. Since the lines carry a small electric charge to power the phones, there are grounds every so many miles as well as booster stations to keep the current flow steady. These would be "shorted" during a power surge. In fact, they sort of act like "surge suppressors" by channeling excess voltage out of the system to mitigate damage.

3) Switching Stations. These replaced the old "operator system" with computerized switching that allowed you to call regionally or nationally. These stations also contained the power boosters to keep the lines current stable. These would be HEAVILY DAMAGED by EMP due to the number of phone lines coming in and the fact that many switchers were already operating at or above recommended capacities to provide the needed communication services. Here is where the real work would be.

A typical phone system will have one switching/booster substation and perhaps three or four connector boxes (which also act as boosters) in a 10-mile radius. You've probably seen the boxes situated along the road near intersections. They are about 3ft tall by 4ft wide and collect the lines coming from side roads before sending a larger line up the pole they are mounted on
Some have no visible pole because the lines are underground. This commonly done in cities. In fact, cities may place the switching/booster stations and the lines in underground vaults. PGH PA does this as well as Cleveland and Philly.

I hope that helps

Swag.
I'm from the Pittsburgh area although I reside in Eastern Ohio, just north of Wheeling. I know just down the street from me, Frontier Communications has their central office for their lines. Also, back during the Cold War, Ma Bell used Pittsburgh as one of their major communications hub.
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Old 05-04-2019, 06:35 PM
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Originally Posted by swaghauler View Post
I can SO see somebody sanctioning a raid on a facility like that. I'm guessing the range on those must be close to 1000 kicks.
I think somewhere on www.archive.org , there was a explanation on how microwaves were used in phone networks although the film was from like circa 1950. IIRC, microwaves are line of sight but for a short distance, they do follow the curvature of the Earth somewhat so IIRC, you get about 30 miles (50 km) range our of a microwave station before you need another one in the chain. Of course, it can vary by the height of the antenna too. They were also used by the radio and TV networks too.

I know in "Alas Babylon," there was use of the teletype network. IIRC, the town's banker wanted to talk to the Federal Reserve Office in Atlanta but the teletype operator could not reach them. He then asked her for the sub-office in Jacksonville but she only got the terminal on Palatka, Florida where the teletype operator there said they saw a mushroom cloud above Jacksonville. I think the message went like "Palatka to Circuit, large mushroom cloud sighted over Jacksonville, lost contact with Jacksonville." The chain was broken, it went from Palatka past Daytona down to Orlando and the Space Coast. IIRC from the book.

It concerns me that we depend on the internet for communications, what if we have an STHF, we might not have the old infrastructure to rely on although ham radio operators (I'm one) still exist. Same with shortwave, a lot of nations dumped shortwave broadcasting for the internet, bad move I say.
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Old 05-06-2019, 05:23 AM
Desert Mariner Desert Mariner is offline
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Originally Posted by Legbreaker View Post
One small point. With the computerisation/automation of the telephone system, just how much of the equipment necessary to switch back to human operators still exists?
I was in the USAF and as late as the late 80s, many base level switchboards were still 100% human operated using manual plug and patch systems. Some of us had to be cross-trained to operate them in case the civilians ever went on strike. I went through this at Charleston AFB, SC and also Hahn AB in Germany. Most (if not all) of the US bases in Germany at that time still utilized manual switchboards. Computerized versions began showing up circa 1987 even these relied on a human operator to connect calls, we just pushed buttons rather than plugging cords.
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