“Oh ISDN, You Left Me Just When I Needed You Most”

Since I don’t have promo or imaging clients the ISDN in the home studio gets sporadic use. Those ISDN sessions I do have usually come with a nice stack of US dollars which more than pays for having that tool in the studio. Sometimes much more. So it stays.

Big girls only cry when the ISDN goes down.

Big girls only cry when the ISDN goes down.

But I learned a lesson the hard way a couple of Mondays ago that like any other tool in the shed, you should crank it up once in awhile and drive it around the block to make sure it’s going to run when you need it.

I had an ISDN booking Monday July 6th, one P.M. Central. I went into the studio Sunday afternoon late to make sure everything was working. It wasn’t. The message from the codec was “ISDN Down.” Oh crap. Get on the phone to customer service.

The phone company had a guy out Monday morning at 9:00 with 20 pounds of tools and meters and testing thingys clinging and clanging off his giant leather belt all of which told him nothing we didn’t already know. The ISDN circuit was down. Swell.

The happy news is that I’m in a market with a lot of ISDN studios and I was able to book one for the right time, get myself over there and call the remote studio with the new dial-ups. The session went quickly and the client was happy. Yay.

By the time I got home  the phone guy, with help from his fellow telephony wizards, had found a bad network card on my circuit. They replaced it and my ISDN is yapping again.

So now I’m checking the ISDN circuit with greater regularity. I’ve set up a speed dial entry that uses one line to call the other and I can hear myself back on the loop. The codec manufacturer has music loops you can dial up to make sure the long distance service is good.

It’s like starting up that extra vehicle now and then to make sure it still runs.¬† Best to know in advance if there’s going to be a problem.

3 thoughts on ““Oh ISDN, You Left Me Just When I Needed You Most”

  1. Mike Cooper

    Good tip, Bill!

    Here in the UK, BT has a “loopback” number which I have set on a speed dial on AudioTX. If I have an ISDN session booked I always crank it up ahead of the session to check that everything’s as it should be (the little green light doesn’t give me enough confidence!) That at least gives me time to offer a VOIP or record-and-forward session via Skype without looking unprofessional to the client.

    But you’re right – ISDN jobs can be few and far between, and “Check ISDN” has just gone into my GTD setup as a regular Wednesday occurrence – most of my ISDN jobs are for radio stations trying to get ads on air for the weekend, and they happen on Thursdays and Fridays more often than not. This way I at least get 24 hours’ notice if it’s down and I need to call the repair man :o)

    I found you via CourVO, by the way – my own blog is at http://www.GobsOnSticks.com.


  2. Gregory Houser


    I’m with you on regular maintenance and check-ups when it comes to your equipment, but I’m an even bigger fan of having a COOP (Continuity of Operations Plan) for my studio. This is a little something I want to write about in a few days or so, but basically it’s a guideline that identifies the most critical failures you can have happen to your business, identifies the worst of the lot, and then identifies some Risk Management activities you can perform in order to lessen the potential loss and minimize the “loss exposure” to your business.

    For me, my ISDN COOP plan is simple: 1) I have ties with several ISDN studios in the area (which cover three geographical zones within my regional ISDN grid, not to mention different carriers), 2) I have alternate technologies which can bridge me to ISDN, 3) Contact info for the local ISDN guru that my carrier uses, an SLA with my local carrier which provides a guarantee of service within 12 hours (or I get $ back).

    I don’t consider this to be #4, but having a corporate card for the business so that I can have an ISDN codec shipped overnight is what I consider to be my last resort if the equipment failure is on my end.



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