[TELECOM] Cutovers to ESS (was: 911 not universal)

Lisa Hancock wrote:

>> Several months ago, Consumers Reports did a report on cellular >> phones and included a discussion on 911 service. It found that: >>=20 >> 1) Nearly half of the U.S. territory is still without 911 centers >> that can find wireless callers (mostly in rural areas, but that's >> where the need could be greatest.) > What you meant to say was that "E911" (enhanced 911 means that > the center is automatically given the caller's location).


> I had presumed the entire country had advanced 911 service which >> would, for landline callers, give the 911 center the caller's >> address. Originally 911 just acted as a routing number and >> seized the trunk. Later enhancements gave it more sophistication >> including passing information about the caller based on their >> phone number from a database. > nit pick: it not called 'advanced' but "enhanced". >> Isn't the entire US now ESS, perhaps not all digital ESS, but at >> least electronic switched? > Yes. Briant Pond, Maine was the last place in the continental USA > to have non-ESS service. They switched over some 10 years ago.

Well, two can nit pick.

Bryant Pond (with a 'y', not an 'i') in Maine was a MAGNETO exchange and a FULL exchange (as opposed to a ring-down party line), and was the last such known magneto exchange in the US that cutover to dial, back in 1983, almost a quarter-century ago. It cutover to ESS, and I seem to think that it was also a digital ESS when it cutover to dial at that time.

But Bryant Pond was NOT the final cutover from electromechanical dial service to ESS (digital or not) in the US or Canada.

There were still numerous #1XB, #5XB, other non-Bell Crossbar, and all kinds of Step offices all over the US and Canada for many more years which still needed to be cutover to ESS or Digital.

The last known #1XB offices in the NYNEX and Bell Atlantic metro areas seemed to cutover to ESS (most likely digital) around 1991 or


There was still at least one remaining magneto party line in the US (I don't know about Canada offhand) as late as 1990, in a remote part of Idaho in the Salmon River area. This magneto ring-down party line was known as "Shoup ID". The magneto ring-down party line was replaced with digital dial service in that year.

Other so-called ring-downs that remained mostly in California or Nevada were operator-handled individual lines but not considered Magneto ring-downs as such.

As late as 1998 and 1999, there were still numerous scattered small SXS systems in the US and Canada, mostly in rural parts of Quebec, Ontario, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, etc. Most of these were cutover to Digital ESS before Y2K. Those in the US were non-Bell, but did include some GTE areas. Those in Canada were both Bell Canada, GTE-held QuebecTel, and small independents.

Apparently all other remaining Crossbar exchanges (#5XB as well as non-Bell manufactured equipment) in the US and Canada were all cutover to ESS or Digital before the late 1990s.

One SXS office in the small rural Quebec town of Nantes, run by the independent local French-only speaking family-owned telephone company, was cutover to a Nortel DMS-10, in June 2002. This is thought to be the last remaining "public" Step office in the North American Dial Network (US and Canada) to be cutover to ESS or Digital. Of course, some small independent telephone companies, collectors, and museums, have preserved older electromechanical equipment (SXS, Panel, Crossbar), and some have even put together an Internet/VoIP semi-private SXS telephone network! But this is not the same as electromechanical central office switches working in a "public" switched telephone network.

BTW, there are still many #1AESS offices and probably some similar non-Bell type non-Digital ESS offices remaining in the US, but it is probably under 100 such installations. I have no idea when these will eventually be cutover to digital or packet/VoIP-based switches.

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Mike Z
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The Forest Fire Station that the engine I was assigned to sometimes had to cover was on a magneto exchange in the mid seventies. I'll bet the folks there were sorry to see that go because San Antone one, which was the forest fire stations ring, acted as an answering service for the entire valley. I believe that there were eight total phones When people were away from their house in the barn or out in their fields and their ring persisted we new the operator had a call that they thought needed to get through so we would answer. If taking a message wouldn't do we would sound the HI LO on the apparatus electronic siren and then announce the call on the loud hailer that was part of the siren. That areas acoustics were such that most folks could make out the voice pretty well. For the two ranches furthest out we would just repeat their ring pattern on the loud hailer and they would go to the phone and ring us back to get the message. With full dial service that practice must have died. It seems strange to me now but even back then I realized that I was part of a fading bit of Americana.

-- Tom Horne

Well we aren't no thin blue heroes and yet we aren't no blackguards to. We're just working men and woman most remarkable like you.

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Thomas D. Horne, FF EMT

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