As I see it, the power problems result from three bad policies:1) Inadequate rates for the power company to properly maintain its network; 2) Public policy that would not allow necessary tree cutbacks to protect power lines. 3) Revision of historical regulatory practices to meet so-called "modern needs" which do no one any good.
But there are a lot of varying points of view--some solely blaming modern thinking, others blaming the supposedly greedy power company.
In my opinion, the nation's power grid is at serious risk as companies evolve from the old public utility model (modest but regulated guaranteed profits) to competitive profit. Anyway, the power grid was built to help out in case of generating failures, but today, it is used to sell and transport the cheapest available power. It doesn't have the capacity to do that, indeed, it doesn't have the capacity to meet modern demands. Further, good but less efficient generating plants are being shut down to save money, leaving us vulnerable to a very hot summer day combined with outages.[snip]
All well and good, BUT, this model is not what consumers want today. They're biggest priority is connectivity--a mobile phone--not reliability. Consumers have chosen to drop their traditional landlines. They don't want them. Consumers don't mind dropped calls, they just redial.
Their second priority is cost. Supplying the end-to-end reliability of the old Bell System was costly--by today's standards, we paid dearly to make a long distance call or have extra extensions in the house (not to mention premium sets or services). Remember when cheapo phones came out--consumer were happy to buy a cheap phone even if it sounded terrible and failed if you sneezed on it. The tough-as-tanks Western Electric sets sat unwanted at yard sales. In the business world, highly reliable classic systems are abandoned for less reliable modern VOIP stuff. Businesses realized that a few lost calls won't kill them and the network savings make up for it.
Historically, the Bell System had active devices out in the field, but reliable power was supplied to them from the central office, this included service to the subscriber. In certain cases, business telephone systems were supplied by central office power. In others, they could be arranged so that limited service could still be obtained in a commercial power failure.***** Moderator's Note *****
I wrote "Active devices," which I mean to refer to things that required separate power supplies, such as SLC cabinets or vaults. PBX's on customer premises (They were all SxS when I started out) always had their own power, but also were equiped with battery backup.
Customers using 1A2 equipment (the old five-buttons-and-hold sets from the time before recorded history) were able to make calls when power went out, since the keysystem was designed to fallback to "POTS" mode when it wasn't powered. The intercoms, however, went out during power failures.
Bill Horne Moderator