Spring 1999 NOC contact drill

The oldest and largest NOC contact drill is back. For the next week I
will attempt to use the telephone number provided by each NOC to contact
that provider. With the number of ISPs involved, it usually takes me
about three days to call all of them, assuming something doesn't go wrong.

All calls should be during normal USA business hours, so after-hour
contacts won't be verified. Sometimes I make a mistake, and get the
time zone of the ISP wrong, my apologies if that happens. I also try
to check there are no major Internet outages in progress before calling
so I didn't interrupt extreme NOC chaos. But again, I may make a mistake
and call at the same time as a major outage. Again, my apologies. Let
me know you are dealing with a crisis and I'll re-schedule the calls for

In the script I use, I identify myself, identify DRA, and ask to confirm
the telephone number, including a non-1-800/888/877 number, and e-mail
address of the ISP's network operation center. In today's world of fancy
phone switches, I always tell them what number I called. I've found many
NOC's are unaware of what numbers are used to reach them, or when they
change. Its amazing how often the person says "You must have called the
right number because you reached us." And when I tell him what number I
actually dialed, he has no idea how I reached their NOC using it.

Everything from area code changes to companies merging NOCs and temporarily
forwarding old NOC phone numbers happen. This seems especially bad for
those ISPs being merged into Telcos. Telcos tend to have the worst problem
with 'special' phone numbers for their NOCs which don't work outside their
service area or even the country. But the problem does affect everyone
to some degree.

Voice-mail systems are a special case. I attempt to choose the 'obvious'
prompts. But I'm often stymied by systems which require special codes
before allowing contact with any human. If I can't figure the system
out in less than five minutes I move on to the next provider.

If necessary I explained what a network operations center is, or ask
who I should call to report a network problem. I don't require access
to the network engineering staff. A customer service person is Ok as
long as they can confirm the correct telephone number for reporting
network problems and e-mail address for the NOC.

You are welcome to inform your network operators or customer service
reps I may be calling. However, in the past I've found this doesn't
help much. Corporate culture tends to overwhelm those efforts. As usual
I will only identify those ISPs which I was able to confirm the contact
information worked. [I wonder if I should identify those I can't
successfully reach, since it seems to be the same four or five ISPs
every time.]

If you want to, you can consider this part of a Y2K contingency test. Even
though I think having good contact information is needed all year long, and
worrying about contingency planning for only one night misses the point.