I woke up this morning to four seemingly unrelated news stories

– North Korea has turned off their phone to South Korea to prevent war
– China has launched a “flotilla” of ships to occupy the South China Sea
– Verizon has announced it is pulling the plug on new ISDN service. Unless you’re in radio, you probably don’t know what that is. In the early 1990s, an attempt was made to convert the US phone system to be digital on the last mile – apartments and new houses were wired with 8 phone wires going to every room. With ISDN, you have very good audio, including high frequency response. Dialing is immediate. The people doing their shows from a home studio are using ISDN – that’s how they can do fillins on a moment’s notice. Other than radio, ISDN never caught on, and DSL largely did away with the need for it. ISDN is the phone standard in Europe and most if the world. Now cell phones are largely replacing wired phones.

I guess the thinking is that with the Internet becoming so reliable, there is no need for a dedicated phone network any more.

Which brings us to the 4th story. I first heard about cyberbunker a few years ago

It may be hard to reach and you may not want to visit that web site. CyberBunker is located in an old Cold War era NATO command center. It’s impenetrable, has its own power generation capability. They will allow anything to be run from their computer center (except kiddy porn or terrorism).

Needless to say, they are a favorite with organized crime gangs in Eastern Europe. They also are popular with folks sending you unsolicited email (aka spam)

Government authorities have tried in the past to breach the defenses to do things like try to seize servers involved in violating copyrights.

At the moment, Cyberbunker is involved in the largest attempt ever to take down the Internet. They are in a war with Spamhaus, a group that works with ISPs to identify and block the sources of all those wonderful offers in your inbox for $5 rolexes and magical blue pills.

The ferocity of the attacks is spewing 300 Gb of data traffic at its targets (Gb = Billions of bits)

The Internet was designed with the goal to survive nuclear war. As we become more and more dependent on it, will it survive an all out attack? We’re pretty much putting all of our eggs in one basket.

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10 Responses to Coincidence?

  1. Nidster says:

    CyberBunker meet BunkerBustingBomb.

  2. CC1s121LrBGT says:

    I actually set up an internet domain for a company in the early 1990s using ISDN connectivity. The company had a location in Pennsylvania and one in Texas. Bell Atlantic charged by the minute for ISDN internet connectivity, but Southwestern Bell did not. Guess where I located the domain’s web server?

    • Art Stone says:


      I used to run and was one of the few sources of information about ISDN. After 1996 and the deregulation of phone service, the phone companies wanted to scuttle ISDN. For the Untited States, ISDN had two main problems – you needed to replace your analog phones and possibly need to rewire your house.

      The other problem was emergency response – your analog phone is powered from the phone company central office – if power goes out, the phone company has big batteries to keep going, and backup power. With one central office, if it has power, everyone’s phone works.

      ISDN is not powered by the phone line – it requires power in your building. If the power goes out, your ISDN phone stops working. So the solution is to install a battery to keep the phone working – but that had a fundamental problem. For regulatory and other reasons, your phone service has a point called the “demarc” – it’s the point where the phone company’s responsibility ends. It’s typically on the outside of your house and is electrically isolated from the phone network so voltages can’t jump from one to the other.

      So who puts in the battery, who hooks it up to a power source and who is responsible if it breaks? Unless the phone company goes into the power business, they can’t provide the power – which means the phone equipment now has to be wired into your electrical system, but the demarc is typically outside and not near electricity. Putting the demarc inside the house now makes it necessary to enter the house for service and makes part of the internal wiring the responsibility of the phone company. So short of a government mandate to go digital like happened with TV, it was never going to happen. The same is true of radio – the HD radio mess is in the news again this week. It’s 10 years old and still few people know what it is, and even fewer people want it. You can’t push a string.

      • CC1s121LrBGT says:

        Not in British Honduras but at a secret location deep in the heart of Southwestern Bell territory.

        In the olden olden days, the demarcation point was where your hand met the handset. The phone company owned the phones and would not allow you to connect anything you owned to their network. Not sure about the wires in your home.

        Verizon FIOS is an interesting thing – there is no power over the fiber so they are powered by a 120 V source in the home, with a battery backup that they supplied. Not sure what happens to it if you cancel service… but I know that I wouldn’t want it sitting in my home for 20 years.

        Digital radio makes more sense than analog… but better still is sun setting that whole infrastructure and replacing with something designed for the digital age.

      • CC1s121LrBGT says:

        BTW- Maybe HD will go the way of “quad” FM from the 1970s. The idea was that if two channels are better than one, then by golly four would be even better still!

        Here is a little audio clip someone recorded in 2011 that contains a clip from 1976 with the SQ (stereo quad)

  3. Nidster says:

    We already had 2 land-lines, since 1960. My home business needed both ISDN spid’s so I got another one for the kids. I also had them bury all the lines, 300 ft to the house and had them install their equipment in my basement. Eventhough we are technically beyond the distance limit for ISDN, the service technicians were able to use a workaround by installing a relay for both lines. I now have DSL setup on the landline and dropped ISDN.

    • Art Stone says:

      Now I know what nid means in your name 😉

      Making things even worse, the phone companies started installing a thing called a DLC – a digital local concentrator – typically in new areas or areas where existing copper pairs ran out. They would grab 4 wires, put a DLC out in the neighborhood and then it could feed something like 20 local pairs. This was also looking forward to becoming all digital down the road.

      Then ADSL arrived – a technology that allowed a smart modem to transmit digital on top of an analog copper pair – but there was a problem. If you were in a neighborhood that was already digital with a DLC, you didn’t have an analog pair to run over, so ADSL was not available, no matter how close you were to the central office.

  4. Nidster says:

    Thanks for the inside info, my sons would know about that. We certainly welcomed the newer technology and materials. The old lead casings were well past their prime.

    “Now I know what nid means in your name” Oh, do you? Not even close.

  5. Art Stone says:

    If you thought “hemp filaments” was a random throwaway line:

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