Community Dial Offices today ??? [telecom]

The talk about rate centers reminded me of a question about how rural telephone service is handled today.

Until the 1970s, the local loop to a subscriber was limited to a finite distance; otherwise expensive repeaters were required. Given that, a small community would its own central office to accomodate calls within the 'community of interest'. In a sense, that office acted as a 'concentrator' to connect the community to other places. Instead of running expensive long loops for each of several hundred subscribers, only some trunks were provided.

The Bell System developed "community dial offices" which were designed for only a few hundred lines. These were unattended. Due to the high fixed cost of common control, step by step remained the switch of choice but eventually compact ESS became economical for such offices.

But that was then. Do they still bother with community dial offices today or have some sort of modern concentrator/transmission line that takes a community's local loops and economically sends it to a larger office?

Any comments on how rural phone service is offered today would be appreciated. Thanks!

P.S. Trivia--in 1970 the Bell System had 11 (eleven) manual offices left. I know one was Santa Catalina Island, off of California, and it was the last to be automated, using a compact ESS described above. I was wondering what the other ten were. This does not include manual offices of Independents. (People in such offices, or those without DDD still got the benefit of discounted direct dial long distance rates.)

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I gather the difference between a small switch and a remote switch is mostly (perhaps entirely) software, and it can be a lot cheaper to configure a bunch of little switches as one parent and the rest as remotes than to make them all separate switches.

The subscribers can't tell the difference, it just means that there's a few extra ms during call setup as the remote asks the main switch for help with the calls it can't handle itself.

R's, John

Reply to
John Levine

There are two common approaches for tiny burgs around here:

a) SLC's of some ilk. These are just a mux; POTS in, fiber out. (Older ones were DS1 out.) Run the fiber 5 miles or 55 to a CO.

b) ORM - Optically Coupled Remote Module. Most of an ESS except the management stuph. It can be ?100 miles? from the 5ESS that hosts it.

An ORM actually switches calls internally; while if you call from one SLC number to another, it goes all the way to the switch and back.

The ORM's I know are bigger [2 prefixes] than SLC size but the major difference is: if you cut off the fiber to each [the way the aliens always do when they arrive from Gamma Globulin's moons]; the SLC lines are all dead, where as the ORM will still make internal calls, such as to the Sheriff.

Reply to
David Lesher

I'm not exactly sure what a "manual office" was by your definition. What I do know was that the community of San Gregorio (about 20 miles south of Half Moon Bay, CA, was a toll station until the mid to late

1980s. The phone booth was "San Gregorio #2" and the general store was "San Gregorio #4". You picked up the phone and hoped that the international operator in Oakland would pick up and know how to patch a call. The trouble on the outgoing side was the operators ignoring the ringing because they might not know how to handle a toll station.

On the incoming side, a caller from outside the community had to know to call their local operator and ask for the international operator and then try to convince her that San Gregorio was a community within the United States, and was in fact in California. It was most helpful to let her know that the call was handled through Oakland.

Oh, and the rate was a call to Oakland, not a call to Half Moon Bay.

I used to phone the store from time to time during the summer to find out the beach weather conditions, since the weather there was often very different from that in SF.

So, I think San Gregorio qualifies as a manual office, even though it was actually a kluge to satisfy about 10 phones.

Reply to
David Kaye

The preferred method is a host/remote via a fiber optics link. The remote is designed to still provide dial tone and local service if the link is broken (such as by a backhoe ;-) ) Both DMS-100s and 5ESSes have remotes made to work with them. I don't know about the DMS-100 remote but I do know that the 5ESS remote's calling features are handled by the host.

As to Catalina Island I believe that was a No 3 ESS or something like that. It was analog like the 1 and 1A. It has since been replaced by a digital remote probably hosted by the nearest Pacific Bell mainland host (San Pedro would be my guess)

***** Moderator's Note *****

I wish there were still a manual exchange there: I think we need at least _one_ place that stays as it was in Gray's day.

Reply to
Sam Spade

It makes sense - even we VoIP users have little boxes in our homes where dialtone, DTMF decoding et al take place in a device smaller than a deck of cards in some cases.

Here in RI there are quite a few remotes in the suburban and rural communities.

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I know the old GTE offices were set up to operate local and 911 if the link to the base was broken, the reason was they were once full operating switches; SXS, the new remotes would only supple 911 service if the lost the base. These offices are located with in the San Bernardino National Forrest, those are the areas I worked in, I'm sure others areas were like these; the offices were GTD5, and DMS 100 switches. My house up in the mountains does not have a landline, just Cellular with a link to a FIOS link. I have 2 Cell towers on my property and right no my attorney is working to get the leases for the next 10 to 20 years worked out, the really can't move and I'm not going to give it to them like the last time.

Reply to
Steven Lichter

Then Ernestine would have to be on the line for every inbound call, so when Farmer Fred answere she could say, "Fred, the Caller ID on this call is 212-555-1234." ;-)

Reply to
Sam Spade

In the very smallest of exchanges that was done. In our town of 300 phones the traffic required two positions (operators), and there wasn't enough time to give that much personal attention to calls. (according to one the operators I spoke to.)

In the Moutain Bell history they go into the detal of "household switchboards", in which the switchboard for a town was located in someone's home on a contract basis from the phone co. The phone co strictly regulated everything, down to what was stored in what dresser drawer. I suspect that idle chitchat or extra services to the community would not have been acceptable if it meant the expense of adding more operators or switchboard positions. Of course, there was still some level of informality (the operator told me it was a big change from working in the small town to the city when she was transffered).

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