Reply to post: It's Texas, Silly!

Ever wanted to strangle Microsoft? Now Outlook, Skype 'throttle' users amid storm cloud drama


It's Texas, Silly!

Between 1997 in 2002, I had an interesting position in Northern California with a firm based in Texas (since absorbed by others) . Telecom Valley has long since dried up and blown away, but I have a lot of memories of that time.

I was the de facto EMC expert in the R&D department there, and beside monitoring designs in progress, was often called on to fix problems that developed in the field. One such problem came up shortly before the inevitable layoffs began and one got me; equipment in Texas was shutting down mysteriously, not a cloud in the sky, nor high tension power lines collapsing on the telephone outside plant, no, not that.

Protective devices on telephone lines were just quietly dying of overload, burning out and and taking down-line equipment "off the net", as we would say now.

They had at the time other EMC engineers than myself, the headquarters being in Texas, so I am confident (ha!) somebody eventually fixed that – but here's my theory.

Clouds passing over the millions of miles of lines across the state carried quite sizable charges, despite never discharging via lightning until things REALLY got "charged up". And as they passed over portions of the network, the charge they carried induced a flow of current between different parts of the land-line system. Equipment protectors being designed to handle short if exceedingly high currents, were burning out because these slowly rising and slowly falling peaks of current exceeded their ability to dissipate it as heat.

It's a good theory, anyway. It's never nice to fool Mother Nature.

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