No Power

by Colin Berkshire

It’s winter, a time when there are increased power failures. What can you expect?

Comcast sells battery backups for your VOIP service. The battery provides about 8 hours of backup. But those eight ours are pretty worthless.

We just had our first extended power failure of the season and Comcast’s note went down after 4 hours. That is, we lost all internet and telephone service within 4 hours.

There is an “8 hour rule” and also a “24 hour rule”. These rules state that telephone companies (common carriers) must provide 24 hours of emergency power to Central Offices and Cellular service must have 8 hours of battery backup. (The carriers vehemently fought this rule, by the way.)

So here is what that means to you:

  • Your VOIP service is likely to die after 4 hours, or in many cases after 2 hours. This is not a Common Carrier service, it is deregulated and there are no requirements for any length of service during a power failure.
  • Your internet service is likely to die after 2~4 hours, for the same reason.
  • Your cell phone service will work for 8 hours, except that if it uses a private backhaul service (such as Comcast) the tower will continue to work but there will be no internet and probably no voice, even though the tower is live. (The 8 hour rule applies to the tower, but not to interconnecting facilities.)
  • After 24 hours you will probably have no telephone service, no cellular no VOIP and no internet.

So what would you do if a storm knocked power out for more than 24 hours? Do you have a plan?