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Re: Alabama/Florida observations

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  • Albert LaFrance
    George, When looking at an underground cable route, the first thing I try to do is determine if it s for local or long-distance service. In general, the
    Message 1 of 11 , May 3, 1999
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      George,

      When looking at an underground cable route, the first thing I try to do is
      determine if it's for local or long-distance service. In general, the
      copper-pair distribution cables which connect local telco customers to
      their central office are *not* interesting unless the customer itself is;
      e.g. the Bell Atlantic line serving Mt. Weather. The distribution lines
      often run along roads, since that's where the customers are, and are
      connected to junction-box pedestals at frequent intervals.

      In some neighborhoods, the copper cables may not go all the way from the
      individual customers' premises to the CO. Instead, they go to a roadside
      cabinet containing interface equipment, which multiplexes the lines onto a
      fiber-optic cable extending back to the CO.

      Around here, the older distribution lines are often marked by small metal
      signs with the Bell logo, the words "Cable Route", and arrows, attached to
      short steel posts. Before it was broken up, AT&T (the Bell System) owned
      most of the local telcos, so both local and long-distance markers of a
      certain vintage may have some version of the Bell logo.

      Newer local telco markers are sometimes tall, flat metal or fiberglass
      stakes, like fence pickets, or plastic poles like those used for
      long-distance. Their distinguishing feature is that they have the name of
      the local telco (Bell Atlantic, Bell South, etc. or an independent) rather
      than a long-distance carrier.

      Some things I consider as making a cable route worthy of further
      investigation:

      (1) Any signs indicating ownership by a major long-distance carrier,
      especially AT&T or MCI.

      (2) AT&T "Transcontinental [Coaxial] Cable Route" signs. These usually
      mark the L-carrier routes. As far as I know, all L-carrier systems are
      dead, but the cable very likely goes to interesting places. Some of the
      marker posts may also have fiber-optic signs, indicating the route has been
      converted to fiber and is probably still active.

      (3) Any cable which runs cross-country, rather than along a roadway.

      (4) Signs giving the name and local number of an AT&T bunker as a point of
      contact.

      As to whether a cable is civilian or military, I think a lot of the
      long-distance fiber routes serve both purposes. Of course, a dedicated
      cable to a defense-related site is always worth checking out.

      I don't know whether the L-carrier routes were exclusively for
      national-security traffic, or whether they carried civilian calls as well.
      Perhaps someone with more expertise on the co-ax network can answer that.

      Corrections and additions to any of the above are welcome...

      ...Albert

      >2)Is their any way it can be determined if a cable route is for military
      or
      >civil use? The first 50 miles of the journey to Georgia from Pensacola
      >(travelled down Navy boulevard from the NAS, and then on US 29 in Florida
      and
      >finally AL Route 113). The markers all had Bell symbols and were of
      various
      >shapes and sizes. Would thepresence of Bell logos as opposed to AT&T
      >indicate they are civilian?
    • Dave Emery
      ... To the best of my knowlage virtually all AT&T analog routes, both L coax and microwave, carried mixtures of civilian and defense circuits, private line
      Message 2 of 11 , May 3, 1999
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        On Mon, May 03, 1999 at 09:22:40PM -0400, Albert LaFrance wrote:
        > From: Albert LaFrance <ALaFrance@...>
        >
        > I don't know whether the L-carrier routes were exclusively for
        > national-security traffic, or whether they carried civilian calls as well.
        > Perhaps someone with more expertise on the co-ax network can answer that.
        >

        To the best of my knowlage virtually all AT&T analog routes,
        both L coax and microwave, carried mixtures of civilian and defense
        circuits, private line traffic and trunking for the PSTN, Autovon and
        various private lines. Much of this was granular on the group (12
        channels) or supergroup (60 channels) levels, but military/defense
        related traffic was sometimes routed on channel groups between
        particular central offices because those slots in the multiplex were
        assigned for traffic between those pairs of places rather than because
        it was military and thus intermixed with civilian circuits of various
        sorts on a voice channel by voice channel basis.

        And certainly some chunks of spectrum (specific groups,
        supergroups, mastergroups etc) got routed on L coax for part of their
        journey and microwave for another part. There were not separate
        systems, but highly interconnected ones with a common signal format in
        both mediums. Radio routes would often back up coax routes, and
        under failure conditions on the coax traffic would get switched to
        radio and sometimes visa versa. And circuits would get to their
        ultimate destinations on radio links, and link up to one of the major
        coax routes for the long haul part as there was much less coax than
        radio...

        In the mid to late 70s there was some active attempt made to
        route sensitive traffic, much of which was defense related, on L coax in
        certain geographical areas to make it less visible to the Russians who
        were known to intercept microwave links near their various diplomatic
        installations. This may have resulted in a substantial tilt toward
        defense related stuff on L coax in those areas, but I don't think there
        ever was anything close to a serious separation of traffic, and certainly
        not an exclusive use of coax by defense circuits. Some specific coax
        links may have been primarily military because they serviced major
        military facilities, but the military desire for redundancy meant that
        at least some circuits were provisioned by other routes.



        --
        Dave Emery N1PRE, die@... DIE Consulting, Weston, Mass.
        PGP fingerprint = 2047/4D7B08D1 DE 6E E1 CC 1F 1D 96 E2 5D 27 BD B0 24 88 C3 18
      • Mark Foster
        ... An interesting question. At first I though they carried both. Why not, we were paying for it in our telephone bill. All the engineers at Western
        Message 3 of 11 , May 3, 1999
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          >I don't know whether the L-carrier routes were exclusively for
          >national-security traffic, or whether they carried civilian calls as well.
          >Perhaps someone with more expertise on the co-ax network can answer that.

          An interesting question. At first I though they carried both. Why not, we
          were
          paying for it in our telephone bill. All the engineers at Western Electric
          I talked
          to though most L carrier equipment was for civilian use only. Later as I
          looked further
          there seemed to be a pattern.

          I think the answer is it depends who it connected. Much the same as asking
          does an overhead cable going to a military base only carry military traffic?
          Some of the original L1 cables carried 99% commercial. Some later L3/L4
          cables (like the ones to Lamar) carried 99% military.

          Which brings up another interesting point about L carrier cables. Some routes
          are well defined, have wide clear cut routes and conspicuously marked for
          aerial inspection while other routes have the traditional Bell system
          markers but are not so
          pronounced. Here in New England the key paths between main stations are
          the former while
          the "side legs" are the latter. I have a suspicion that the routes with
          "national security" implications
          with the former and "civilian" routes were the latter.
        • John Warne
          Sometimes you found residential, business, and government communications flowing through different cables in the same underground facility. In residential and
          Message 4 of 11 , May 4, 1999
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            Sometimes you found residential, business, and government communications
            flowing through different cables in the same underground facility.

            In residential and urban areas, manholes are interconnected by what telco
            people call ducts (I call 'em "pipes"). These multiple ducts are then
            filled with copper cables or sheaths called innerducts into which fiber is
            placed. Many times the manholes served as splice points for cale runs (and,
            in Florida, many times the manholes were filled with water. You'd pump one
            out, and it would refill from adjacent manholes via the ducts!)

            A couple ex-telco types told me there were/are situations where dedicated
            copper cables were used for national defense communications. These cables
            always had the splice casings painted a bright red. The local technicians
            were forbidden to open one of those splice closures, under penalty of
            termination of employment and federal prosecution!

            Seems there was a way that the integrity of the seals on the cables could
            be determined from remote sites.

            Many cables were pressurized to keep water/moisture out, so perhaps loss of
            pressure was used to alert in case of a breach.
          • Matthew Sadler
            ... Many underground cables, both those that are directly buried as well as those in ducts, are pressurized and they can/do monitor the pressure. Helps detect
            Message 5 of 11 , May 4, 1999
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              --- John Warne <warnejw@...> wrote:
              > From: John Warne <warnejw@...>
              >
              > A couple ex-telco types told me there were/are
              > situations where dedicated
              > copper cables were used for national defense
              > communications. These cables
              > always had the splice casings painted a bright red.
              > The local technicians
              > were forbidden to open one of those splice closures,
              > under penalty of
              > termination of employment and federal prosecution!
              >
              > Seems there was a way that the integrity of the
              > seals on the cables could
              > be determined from remote sites.
              >
              > Many cables were pressurized to keep water/moisture
              > out, so perhaps loss of
              > pressure was used to alert in case of a breach.

              Many underground cables, both those that are directly
              buried as well as those in ducts, are pressurized and
              they can/do monitor the pressure. Helps detect leaks,
              especially those caused by construction equipment...

              I'd say that the pressure is the easiest way to make
              sure people are keeping out of your cable.


              ===
              --
              Matthew Sadler, KF4LHP ICQ: 6280641
              kf4lhp@... mws6533@...
              http://www.qsl.net/kf4lhp/

              _________________________________________________________
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            • Albert LaFrance
              I worked during the summer of 1978 in data processing at the State Department, and recall being told that cables for classified un-encrypted ( red ) circuits
              Message 6 of 11 , May 4, 1999
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                I worked during the summer of 1978 in data processing at the State
                Department, and recall being told that cables for classified un-encrypted
                ("red") circuits within the building were carried in red-painted steel
                conduits, with the fittings welded and the pipe pressurized to detect
                intrusion. As I understood the concept, the crypto equipment was
                centralized in one or more secure technical-control rooms, with the lines
                between these rooms and the end users' phones and data terminals being
                protected solely by the conduits.

                I think pressurization for moisture protection was also used with aerial
                phone cables, at least the paper-insulated lead-covered cables which were
                presumably less tolerant of water than are plastic-insulated cables. In
                the 60s and 70s, it was quite common to see a tall gas cylinder (probably
                nitrogen) chained to the base of a telephone pole, with a hose going up the
                pole and attached to the cable. These setups seemed to come and go;
                perhaps the pressurization was only used when circuit problems suggested a
                leak. I also recall seeing technicians using listening devices on long
                poles to "sniff" for leaks along aerial cable runs.

                More recently, I've noticed a few old lead aerial splice cases having a
                small box attached to the case by a short stem. There is a small cable
                coming out of the box and connecting to a nearby junction box, like a
                regular subscriber line. I'm wondering if these boxes are pressure
                sensors.

                ...Albert

                >A couple ex-telco types told me there were/are situations where dedicated
                >copper cables were used for national defense communications. These cables
                >always had the splice casings painted a bright red. The local technicians
                >were forbidden to open one of those splice closures, under penalty of
                >termination of employment and federal prosecution!
                >
                >Seems there was a way that the integrity of the seals on the cables could
                >be determined from remote sites.
                >
                >Many cables were pressurized to keep water/moisture out, so perhaps loss
                of
                >pressure was used to alert in case of a breach.
              • hal
                Gosh Albert, we seem to have worked in the same place. I worked at the Foreign Affairs Data Processing Center at State around the same time. Its where I
                Message 7 of 11 , May 5, 1999
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                  Gosh Albert, we seem to have worked in the same place. I "worked" at the
                  Foreign Affairs Data Processing Center at State around the
                  same time. Its where I gained my immense respect for the State. BTW lets see if
                  we can plan a joint trip to Spear Mt.

                  Hal

                  Albert Lawrence wrote:

                  > From: Albert LaFrance <ALaFrance@...>
                  >
                  > I worked during the summer of 1978 in data processing at the State
                  > Department, and recall being told that cables for classified un-encrypted
                  > ("red") circuits within the building were carried in red-painted steel
                  > conduits, with the fittings welded and the pipe pressurized to detect
                  > intrusion. As I understood the concept, the crypto equipment was
                  > centralized in one or more secure technical-control rooms, with the lines
                  > between these rooms and the end users' phones and data terminals being
                  > protected solely by the conduits.
                  >
                  > I think pressurization for moisture protection was also used with aerial
                  > phone cables, at least the paper-insulated lead-covered cables which were
                  > presumably less tolerant of water than are plastic-insulated cables. In
                  > the 60s and 70s, it was quite common to see a tall gas cylinder (probably
                  > nitrogen) chained to the base of a telephone pole, with a hose going up the
                  > pole and attached to the cable. These setups seemed to come and go;
                  > perhaps the pressurization was only used when circuit problems suggested a
                  > leak. I also recall seeing technicians using listening devices on long
                  > poles to "sniff" for leaks along aerial cable runs.
                  >
                  > More recently, I've noticed a few old lead aerial splice cases having a
                  > small box attached to the case by a short stem. There is a small cable
                  > coming out of the box and connecting to a nearby junction box, like a
                  > regular subscriber line. I'm wondering if these boxes are pressure
                  > sensors.
                  >
                  > ...Albert
                  >
                  > >A couple ex-telco types told me there were/are situations where dedicated
                  > >copper cables were used for national defense communications. These cables
                  > >always had the splice casings painted a bright red. The local technicians
                  > >were forbidden to open one of those splice closures, under penalty of
                  > >termination of employment and federal prosecution!
                  > >
                  > >Seems there was a way that the integrity of the seals on the cables could
                  > >be determined from remote sites.
                  > >
                  > >Many cables were pressurized to keep water/moisture out, so perhaps loss
                  > of
                  > >pressure was used to alert in case of a breach.
                  >
                  > ------------------------------------------------------------------------
                  > Wanting to get back in touch with old friends?
                  > http://www.onelist.com
                  > Reunite through a ONElist community.
                • hal
                  Sorry about that. Should not have gone to the list. Please ignore it. Thanks
                  Message 8 of 11 , May 6, 1999
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                    Sorry about that. Should not have gone to the list. Please ignore it. Thanks

                    hal wrote:

                    > From: hal <halfei@...>
                    >
                    > Gosh Albert, we seem to have worked in the same place. I "worked" at the
                    > Foreign Affairs Data Processing Center at State around the
                    > same time. Its where I gained my immense respect for the State. BTW lets see if
                    > we can plan a joint trip to Spear Mt.
                    >
                    > Hal
                    >
                    > Albert Lawrence wrote:
                    >
                    > > From: Albert LaFrance <ALaFrance@...>
                    > >
                    > > I worked during the summer of 1978 in data processing at the State
                    > > Department, and recall being told that cables for classified un-encrypted
                    > > ("red") circuits within the building were carried in red-painted steel
                    > > conduits, with the fittings welded and the pipe pressurized to detect
                    > > intrusion. As I understood the concept, the crypto equipment was
                    > > centralized in one or more secure technical-control rooms, with the lines
                    > > between these rooms and the end users' phones and data terminals being
                    > > protected solely by the conduits.
                    > >
                    > > I think pressurization for moisture protection was also used with aerial
                    > > phone cables, at least the paper-insulated lead-covered cables which were
                    > > presumably less tolerant of water than are plastic-insulated cables. In
                    > > the 60s and 70s, it was quite common to see a tall gas cylinder (probably
                    > > nitrogen) chained to the base of a telephone pole, with a hose going up the
                    > > pole and attached to the cable. These setups seemed to come and go;
                    > > perhaps the pressurization was only used when circuit problems suggested a
                    > > leak. I also recall seeing technicians using listening devices on long
                    > > poles to "sniff" for leaks along aerial cable runs.
                    > >
                    > > More recently, I've noticed a few old lead aerial splice cases having a
                    > > small box attached to the case by a short stem. There is a small cable
                    > > coming out of the box and connecting to a nearby junction box, like a
                    > > regular subscriber line. I'm wondering if these boxes are pressure
                    > > sensors.
                    > >
                    > > ...Albert
                    > >
                    > > >A couple ex-telco types told me there were/are situations where dedicated
                    > > >copper cables were used for national defense communications. These cables
                    > > >always had the splice casings painted a bright red. The local technicians
                    > > >were forbidden to open one of those splice closures, under penalty of
                    > > >termination of employment and federal prosecution!
                    > > >
                    > > >Seems there was a way that the integrity of the seals on the cables could
                    > > >be determined from remote sites.
                    > > >
                    > > >Many cables were pressurized to keep water/moisture out, so perhaps loss
                    > > of
                    > > >pressure was used to alert in case of a breach.
                    > >
                    > > ------------------------------------------------------------------------
                    > > Wanting to get back in touch with old friends?
                    > > http://www.onelist.com
                    > > Reunite through a ONElist community.
                    >
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