AT&T Preps for Disaster Recovery Drill

Using a team designed to restore network services in disaster areas, AT&T plans to conduct drills in New Jersey next week to evaluate its emergency response capabilities.

 By Michael Hall
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Using resources it has drawn on a dozen times in real-world situations in the last 15 years, AT&T says it plans to conduct disaster recovery exercises at its New Jersey facilities next Tuesday.

The company's Network Disaster Recovery (NDR) exercise will involve twenty-three self-contained equipment trucks. Its Global Network Operations Center will test and evaluate how well the company can respond to natural or human-caused disasters. The exercise will be one of several the company conducts this year as part of its efforts to refine its disaster response systems.

According to the company, it has the only mobile, full-readiness NDR team in the industry. In a statement announcing the exercise, the company said it has spent more than $300 million on its NDR program, which includes specially trained management and technical staff and a fleet of more than 150 equipment-trailers and support vehicles equipped with data-routing and voice-switching gear.

In addition to supporting AT&T's network, the company also uses its NDR team's mobile satellite capabilities to provide communications support for humanitarian relief efforts, establishing satellite links to its networks for use by relief organizations and government agencies. Its Emergency Communications Vehicles (ECVs) can be deployed to provide calling capability when normal communications are disrupted by disasters and evacuations.

Since 1990, the company says it has deployed its NDR team 12 times, restoring service after south Florida's Hurricane Andrew in 1992; the Northridge, California earthquake in 1994; tornadoes in Oklahoma in 1999; the September 11 attacks in New York City; and the wildfires in San Diego in 2003.

"Any disruption in business operations can be a costly experience," said Chris Rooney, the company's president of sales. "The key to rapid recovery is to have a disaster plan in place and test it regularly, which is what AT&T's NDR exercise is all about."

This article was originally published on Apr 1, 2005
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