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June 24, 2013

AT&T host disaster recovery drill in Amsterdam

AT&T has invested $16 million in international Network Disaster Recovery programme.

By Duncan Macrae

AT&T, a telecommunications company, has welcomed IT professionals from around the globe to its Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Forum, held from June 20 to June 27 in Amsterdam.

The event is designed to illustrate how AT&T protects its global network, prepares and responds to real-time threats such as natural disasters, security breaches and network attacks. The drills are held regularly and globally in a wide variety of settings using different recovery scenarios.

AT&T has invested $600 million in its entire Network Disaster Recovery programme, running field exercises three or four times a year since its inception in 1992. A total of $16 million of this investment has been dedicated to the international markets and in recent years exercises have been held in the UK and Germany.

The drills include establishing emergency communications channels from the site using AT&T equipment. On-site AT&T will have a fully functioning MPLS-enabled ‘point of presence’ designed to replace any one of AT&T’s global network nodes deployed in around 60 countries worldwide, should it become unavailable. These state-of-the art, self-contained equipment trailers are the only emergency communications units that can be packed on to 747 airplanes, which means they can be deployed worldwide anywhere, anytime and at short notice in the event of a disaster.

The exercises test as many of the Network Disaster Recovery processes as possible from the initial call-out, to equipment transportation and setup, to technology turn-up and testing. At these exercises, team members are given hands-on training on new technologies and the recovery equipment is operated in field conditions.

Joining AT&T are representatives from Télécoms Sans Frontières, (TSF) the only NGO (Non Government Organisation) in the world that specialises in emergency telecommunications and new technologies. AT&T has supported TSF for over ten years.

Mark Francis, VP, Network Operations, said: "We chose Amsterdam for this exercise to help local and regional first responders understand AT&T Network Disaster Recovery’s role in restoring communications for an area impacted by a disaster.

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"Our Network Disaster Recovery exercises are a global effort – they are conducted in the United States and around the world to maintain the readiness of the team and its equipment."

Jean-François Cazenave, president, Télécoms Sans Frontières, said: "In emergency situations access to reliable telecommunications becomes critical to the humanitarian response for both emergency responders and victims. Telecommunication networks are often seriously damaged or destroyed.

"AT&T’s support for our work has been vital in enabling TSF to continue to expand our operations globally and further our ability to respond to disasters and sustain support to communities at times of crisis. For the last 15 years TSF has built a roster of IT and telecoms specialists, both staff and volunteers from all over the world. They are competent, trained and motivated individuals ready to be deployed anywhere in the world with only a few hours notice. Thanks to these teams, TSF is among the first to arrive after a catastrophe."

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