Each NDR technology trailer contains a telecom infrastructure element that is present in a normal AT&T central office. Installing, configuring and testing the equipment in advance eliminates the delay of having “first-off-the-line” equipment sent from vendors after an office has been lost, and it also eliminates the need to find a suitable replacement building in an area devastated by a disaster. The recovery trailers allow the equipment to arrive at a stricken city ready for service, in powered containers that, when interconnected, serve as a temporary network office.
The equipment is installed in bays/racks down each side of the trailer, leaving a working aisle down the center—like the layout of equipment bays in a permanent office. The equipment is powered by battery, through a rectifier, and the batteries are constantly charged from commercial power, from a large portable generator (e.g., 600kW) or from a dedicated generator (usually built in to the front of each trailer). Fiber-optic and/or copper-T3 cabling connections to the equipment are made in internal and/or external cabling bulkheads on each trailer.
The technologies present in the trailers have evolved since the early 1990s following the changes in the AT&T network. The trailers now include IP and OC-768 (40Gbps) fiber-optic “transport” systems that support the high volume of data that traverses the AT&T network. The IP trailers, when fully-equipped, can scale up to a capacity of over 10,000 T3s. The technology fleet includes ATM, Frame Relay, DMS and 5E switch trailers, and lower speed fiber transport and DACS (Digital Access Cross-Connect Systems) trailers to allow inter-city/intra-city services and interfaces between the network's copper and fiber-optic infrastructure.
AT&T's AGN network in the global markets is supported with disaster recovery trailers staged in both the United States and in Europe. Some of the AGN equipment is installed in fly-away containers that can be shipped by commercial air carrier. Following the earthquakes in Chile in February 2010, AGN recovery nodes were flown to Santiago and set up near a permanent telco office in case aftershocks made that building, and its equipment, unusable.
NDR’s recovery equipment is maintained in warehouses across the United States and in Europe—positioned strategically so the equipment can reach AT&T’s network offices quickly. The equipment doesn’t sit idle. It is kept powered-up and on-network so updates can be installed and so it can be tested both on-site and remotely. NDR’s warehouse teams are responsible for the health and welfare of the equipment inside the trailers and for the running gear that lets the equipment travel. It’s a unique blend of skills that crosses the spectrum of tasks from machining parts to configuring core network routers.
In 2011, the ninetieth recovery technology trailer was added to the fleet. NDR’s total inventory includes over 320 pieces of equipment, including large power and support trailers, emergency communications vehicles, hazmat trailers and escort vehicles.