Countdown to Shutdown - How Operators Can Avoid the Perils of Aging Wireline Switching Infrastructure

We’ve probably all been accused of taking things for granted – whether it’s a beautiful picturesque day if you’re lucky enough to live in a tropical location; or the fact that you have reliable transportation to get you to and from your job and daily activities; or the infrastructure such as bridges and roads that we travel every day.  But when something that you take for granted suddenly fails, the impact can be devastating.  Take for example, legacy telephone switches, commonly known as “TDM Switches”.  Many of these switches have far out-lived their designed life-spans and their chances of failing can wreak havoc on those who rely on them. 

There are about 40,000 legacy telephone switches in the world, and they still support about 900 million lines globally, about the same number of lines they supported just fifteen years ago.  The phone services provided by these switches are of vital revenue and earnings importance to many of the world’s largest communications companies.  These switches continue to be integral operating components in critical infrastructures across the globe, providing key communications services for consumers, businesses, first responders, health care, and military and governmental entities.

However, this critical infrastructure is on a rapid “countdown to shutdown.”  Engineered for a 20-25 year design life, most switches have passed that mark and are now operating on borrowed time.  Because many of these switches have performed in the past with reasonable regularity, operators can be easily lulled into believing that they will continue operating today as they did yesterday.   This false sense of security is exacerbated by the attrition of skilled employees who operate these aging switches, the declining lack of vendor support, and a diminishing supply of spare replacement parts.

In our latest white paper titled, Countdown to Shutdown, GENBAND explores the potential impact on our communities, businesses and enterprises of ignoring these aging switches.  The paper discusses the substantial risks involved and offers simple strategies and tactics that operators can implement to mitigate the risks associated with TDM switch failures.

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