A major disaster recovery exercise is concluding today in Washington D.C. The week long event was held by AT&T to test, evaluate, refine and improve how the company restores communications in the wake of a natural or manmade disaster. The network disaster recovery (NDR) exercise filled the capitol's Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium with equipment trailers and personnel providing satellite and broadband fiber optic communications links.
Held several times a year, this is the 54th and largest field NDR exercise conducted by AT&T, says Mark Francis, vice president of the company's Global Network Operations Center in Bedminster, New Jersey. The company gathered more than 45 disaster recovery trailers and vehicles, including 28 tractor trailers, two emergency communications vehicles, four hazmat trailers, one satellite cell on light truck (COLT), and five smaller utility and support trailers.
During a disaster recovery, Francis explains that the company's strategy is to set up equipment in a large open area such as a stadium. All of the equipment forms the core of an AT&T regional office. The trailers can replace the fiber optic backbone equipment in an office and replace the central network. He notes that one of the goals of this exercise was to test high speed optical transport equipment operating at 40 gigabytes per second. The event also sets up mobile cellular communications systems for first responders.