The ring-no-answer condition on our dial-up lines on the evening of 4/30/98 and morning of 5/1/98 were caused by a power system problem in a piece of US West equipment called a Discuss. The Discuss is a piece of equipment that contains a number of T1 banks, each of which multiplexes 24 lines over two pairs of wires and is used when there aren't enough copper pairs to serve each line with an individual pair. Nearly all of our lines are served out of this piece of equipment. It has dual 48 volt power strings and duplicated "rectifiers", which are actually sophisticated battery chargers that include current limiting, voltage regulation, and alarm functions. Each rectifier charges a string of batteries and the Discuss can draw power from either string so that, in theory, as long as one is functioning the Discuss will function. Further, there are alarm circuits that are supposed to automatically alert telephone company personell when a single rectifier fails so they can replace it before both fail. The alarm isn't functioning. This allowed one rectifier to fail and go unnoticed until the other failed, and that went unnoticed until the batteries discharged to the point where the ring generators wouldn't function anymore. When that happened, there was no longer any ringing voltage to cause the modems to answer the calls or to ring the phones on the support lines. The person that works on the Discuss was able to get one rectifier operational by power cycling it, but it is still in "failed" condition. The other is completely non-operational. The string voltage is right at the total discharge state so any further deterioration and we will be out of service again. The batteries discharged very unevenly, there are four 12 volt batteries in each string. Some are at 12 volts, some are below 9 volts. 9 volts is normally considered completely discharged for a 12 volt lead-acid battery. The fact that they discharged so unevenly really indicates they aren't well. So this thing is just limping along. US West power people are now out rounding up replacement rectifiers and batteries for this unit. They are expecting to return around 9:30am to replace the defective batteries and rectifiers. Later in the day an alarm person from US West is supposed to come out and determine why the alarm circuits aren't working to prevent future failures from resulting in service deterioration and outages. I've got to say this has been really frustrating. I first heard there was a problem around 7pm. I spent about a half hour looking at our equipment and trying to determine the scope of the problem. When it became apparent it was not our equipment and it didn't appear to be central office wide but in fact appeared to be only circuits on the Discuss I called this into repair. I called them every 45-60 minutes and escalated it several times before I finally got to talk to someone who sounded like they had even the slightest clue. By midnight I was actually talking to a supervisor in Seattle that knew what a Discuss was. By 2am, they were finally able to identify the unit. They didn't get anybody here until almost 5am. The person they did finally send, Aiken, impressed me as being one of the more competent people I have had the pleasure of dealing with at US West, she seemed to know the Discuss pretty well, but she doesn't do power, so once power was identified as the problem, it was referred to a power crew, and an alarm crew to fix the alarms. Hopefully batteries and rectifiers will be replaced and the alarm circuit fixes later today. If the power has been going south for a long time this might haved caused some of the intermittant problems we experienced earlier.