There is a time when everything you prepare for comes true and you find it still lacking. Recently with the ice and Snow storms, A remote site I do IT work with suffered some power outages. The battery backups held, the Generator kicked over and the only problem was that we needed to change to hold time before the generator shuts off after power was restored to around 10 minutes instead of 5 because of failed attempts from the power company lasting only 6 or 7 minutes.
Anyways, things went down hill from there, the phones went out but we still had internet. A T1 line that somehow is routed from another direction then the regular phone lines. Verizon isn't able to set up VoIP or run the phones through the T1 in the area so the 6 lines were completely dead even though we still had the T1 working. I had a backup plan though, we have the 800 number forwarded to the home office of the owner and used VoIP that I connected with a Asterix to forward some calls and a VPN to run programs and all. This worked well the first two days but now the T1 is out and Verizon is telling me that it won't be until Monday (I talked to them last on friday morning) before they can do anything about it. We do have a business contract with them that states something about 24 hour turn around for techs but it appears the problem is something like a Tree fell through the CO and they have some major repairs they need to do before anything between me and them will make a difference.
So off to plan C, we hacked together a cell phone amplifier using a combination of a mobile amp I use in my truck and a internal building amplifier kit that was used at another site I administrate until they relocated and I scavenged the equipment and got cell phone service in pretty good shape at the facility. It normally has spotty reception but between the two kits, we got all the major services covered and started using employee phones as "extensions" by answering the 800 number being forwarded to the owners cell phone and then doing a call back from an employees phone at our expense. This went swimmingly for about 3 hours until the cell towers took a total dump in the area. Apparently, it has been going on and off and with our spotty reception, we didn't notice it.
For now, we have "voice mail" at Verizon's facility giving a message describing the problems and people two towns away checking the voice mail and doing call backs but they are severely limited because the computers and data can't be transferred without disrupting what little in house work that can be done and without internet access, we can't even sync the data. Last I heard, someone was going to run price sheets and availability requests ever couple of hours until something comes back on line.
I've done everything I can think of outside of using the CB radio which would limit what we could do anyways because I couldn't legally put enough power across them to connect the sites as well as transmitting personal information. I need to know, is there something like that in which I can use a radio or something for relatively cheap when all else fails like this? We can't even get emergency services in the area without driving 6-8 miles away on a still snow covered and icy road that twists and turns quite a bit so I hope no one has a heart attack and nothing catches on fire.
I'm thinking there has to be something that could be done using radios of some sort. Another Client uses parts of the 800mhz spectum for county services and they have the ability to send data as well as patch calls from the office to the radio in the vehicles. But, they are a government office and their equipment costs quite a bit. What I would need is something that I can either send data over in a protected way to give network access like a VPN or to carry "phone lines" from about 20 miles away where the phones actually work to the office. They will probably lose about 250-300 grand in sales if the phones or something close to it goes back up by Monday morning. Cost is an issue but there is no need not to expect to spend money- especially when public safety is involved. However, we can't be doing a million dollar investment or anything like that for a worsts case scenario situations. This is the first time I have had it get this bad. I have a truck that I can mount an antenna mast on for the remote location, fixing an antenna at the site won't be a problem, I can be hidden in the trees on the back side of a hill.
Any thoughts on what else could be done? It doesn't have to be something to cover this situation but I feel lost when I can't pull a rabbit out of my hat and make everyone smile. I'm not against looking into different radio tech myself but I think for what we need, I would have to get licensed at both places which makes a mobile state sort of hard to accomplish, I'm pretty sure I would have to purchase a channel or channels to operate on, and I'm not even close to knowing what would be needed as far as equipment goes or what the terminology to use when asking. I'm not even sure if I can get the speeds needed to accomplish what I want from radio either.
Another thought I had was using dry wire or the lines used to remote alarm system monitoring and patching voice over it with an Asterix box or something. It doesn't depend on power from the CO and is supplied by the customer much like an ISDN line. I think it can be connected point to point similarly to a T1 but without the need for the equiptment on the telco side of life. I'm still not positive on that though. However, I'm afraid it might have been effected by the same issues that the CO has with the tree and all knocking everything out. I'm not sure there is equipment was damages or if it was just power issues though.