Dealing With Carriers — The Painful Part of Being a Network Engineer (Part 1)

As a Network Engineer I have to deal with a variety of carriers almost on a daily basis. AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, TWtelecom, Level3, TelePacific….just to name a few. Some are a pleasure to work with…friendly staff, a sales team that’s on your side, technical support that actually knows what they are doing…you get the idea. Some are not so nice to work with. And then there are some that are just PAINFUL to work with. Such as today.

We are opening a new district office in a major city here in California, and we ordered a hi-speed fiber network connection this past Spring. Go-live is in October (as in next month). For four months the carrier has said that things are progressing normally, no problems. Until today. All of a sudden, they have encountered a “major construction problem”. They couldn’t figure this out until today? Does this mean no circuits at all? Or will there be a long delay? No answers as yet…wait until Monday they say. Just great. I’m on vacation next week…out of state…for my son’s wedding.

So, as a Network Engineer, what should you do? Plan out some options and quickly.  Which we did this afternoon…

  • For data and Internet access: I found a local fixed wireless provider that can give us a high-speed Internet circuit, and get all of this installed in as little as two weeks. I’ll configure an IPsec tunnel to our Data Center…all is good.
  • Voice: We can leave our current PRI voice circuit and router at our old location for now until all of this is straightened out, and just route the VoIP calls over the data network.
  • Analogs lines (fax, etc): Vonage can deliver plain analog lines over the Internet, and I’ve used this before at some of our temporary job-sites. Or, perhaps now is a good time to test some of the e-fax providers. We have several options here.

Of course, none of this is ideal. But we should still be able to meet our deadline and not disrupt the scheduled move of staff and equipment. So, perhaps I can relax and enjoy my son’s wedding next week. Perhaps…