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Telco "Frames"


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#1 trevelyn

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Posted 18 June 2009 - 09:52 AM

Have you guys ever seen a "Frame?" I was buggin the Fios installer guy at my house about test numbers and Bell cans and the lot and he mentioned them to me and said they were tiny "underground C.O.'s" and kept saying how cool they were. I went right after work to one that he mentioned to shoot some pictures but was swarmed by police (3 or 4 cop cars), searched, and interrogated. Here are the pics we shot:

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The Frame Itself

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The Typical Bell Warning

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Under that metal lid was a BEST lock

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External Auxiliary Power

The cop thought we were foreigners and said that this was a matter of "National Security" and was quite rude to us until the other cops showed up, then asked them to turn off their radios while he went back to his cruiser to ask what the "frame" even was. After checking us out and searching out car and finally realizing we were law abiding, technology nerd citizens they changed into nice guys for a while and let us go. You can hear a fan blowing in the tunnel, and feel air coming out of the side vents.

It's kinda creepy, but at the same time mysteriously cool (which seems to be the Telco's theme around where I live). I have never heard of these and thought they'd be cool to show off.

#2 IndexPhinger

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Posted 18 June 2009 - 10:49 AM

We have some of those here, I got to be in one (legally of course)

They're pressurized (hence the fans) , and they accept external power from that huge ass plug.

nothing too fancy, ours was an underground exchange/frame , just a few things of equipment (ours had 2 DSLAMs and old analog equipment gathering dust...the telco guy said I could have the old analog stuff. (provided I could lift the half ton box out of a 8ft deep box of concrete :P)

Edited by IndexPhinger, 18 June 2009 - 11:20 AM.


#3 samo

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Posted 18 June 2009 - 01:14 PM

I've seen a couple of those around where I live (north Chicago suburbs). So if they are "underground CO's," are they categorized as remote switches, or remote concentrators, or what? Do they process common control and stuff?

#4 trevelyn

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Posted 18 June 2009 - 02:48 PM

yeah, i'm not sure i got all i could outta the Fios guy that i think he could handle, he thought i was weird. I want to see in one! There should be a website that has a massive gallery of underground Telco stuff. I tried with 2Dial*Phreak years ago, but could only get bell can pics of tubes and wires and such. Id like to see what it's like in a can near a C.O. where all the lines join together..

#5 JmanA9

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Posted 18 June 2009 - 08:40 PM

When he says it's an underground CO, I think he means that it's a remote terminal. So it's almost a CO, I guess.

There's not too many of those in the Monroeville/Greensburg areas, but I've seen them before.

Do you think the cops came because you set off an alarm? Some of the above ground RT's have alarms that go off when you open the door.

#6 dmine45

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Posted 19 June 2009 - 04:46 AM

We have a number of above ground remote terminals here. Same purpose as those underground ones. One of these years I'll post some pictures of one that was left open one time. :lol:

#7 trevelyn

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Posted 19 June 2009 - 07:56 AM

When he says it's an underground CO, I think he means that it's a remote terminal. So it's almost a CO, I guess.

There's not too many of those in the Monroeville/Greensburg areas, but I've seen them before.

Do you think the cops came because you set off an alarm? Some of the above ground RT's have alarms that go off when you open the door.


Well it was near Baldwin H.S. downhill from the municipal building. The cops didn't all show up at once, the other two came probably 2 or 3 minutes after the first. I didn't open anything, as i said, it was locked, and i am not sure if there would be any proximity sensors as it was like 10 feet away from the street..

We have a number of above ground remote terminals here. Same purpose as those underground ones. One of these years I'll post some pictures of one that was left open one time.


please do! :D

#8 wadragunov

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Posted 19 June 2009 - 11:31 AM

underground RT's are largely used in urban areas. they are a little more dangerous in that you have to wait before entering if you've just opened it. at least that's what they will tell you in training. disabling the RT usually would only effect the area it serves. you most likely wouldn't be able to cause any serious interruption of service unless a government facility worked out of the rt.

i don't buy the "national security" bs. it's used whenever they don't have any reason to stop and detain you. "national security" is a scare tactic and catchall for hiding the motives of the government.

#9 trevelyn

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Posted 19 June 2009 - 12:15 PM

underground RT's are largely used in urban areas. they are a little more dangerous in that you have to wait before entering if you've just opened it. at least that's what they will tell you in training. disabling the RT usually would only effect the area it serves. you most likely wouldn't be able to cause any serious interruption of service unless a government facility worked out of the rt.

i don't buy the "national security" bs. it's used whenever they don't have any reason to stop and detain you. "national security" is a scare tactic and catchall for hiding the motives of the government.


<3 thanks! well, it worked, i was slightly scared since i just landed my career i didnt want jail time from taking phreak related pics to lose it. I read the 10 commandments of photography from a separate post, which helped.
do you think they make you wait cos of fumes from possible underground sewage seepage? or maybe just cos it's pressurized to make sure?
I am stoked to get more pics, there are TONS of old telco stuff like this around my old city...

#10 wadragunov

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Posted 19 June 2009 - 01:15 PM

it's just in case of a dangerous gas build up, CO2 and other gases that might be flammable or cause suffocation.

#11 Skunkworks

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Posted 19 June 2009 - 02:18 PM

<br />it's just in case of a dangerous gas build up, CO2 and other gases that might be flammable or cause suffocation.<br />

<br /><br /><br />

I wouldn't be too worried about that.

Carbon dioxide isn't flammable, and only a slight risk to breathing in an open area. Hydrogen sulfide (common sewer gas smelling like rotten eggs) is far more toxic but only flammable in very high concentrations, and shouldn't build up enough ourdoors to be dangerous.

I wonder how exactly the idea of a "mini C.O." got started... :-/

Odd stuff

#12 wadragunov

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Posted 19 June 2009 - 02:25 PM

i am aware carbon dioxide isn't flammable, just meant as an example. underground RT's, as are man holes, are considered confined spaces. there is sometimes a ventilation fan that turns on when the RT is opened.

#13 IndexPhinger

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Posted 21 June 2009 - 03:39 AM

i am aware carbon dioxide isn't flammable, just meant as an example. underground RT's, as are man holes, are considered confined spaces. there is sometimes a ventilation fan that turns on when the RT is opened.


hence the ones I was in, the fan is on almost constantly, to circulate air.

#14 Andrew

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Posted 21 June 2009 - 03:49 PM

Well, I can give some insight into these Walk In Cabinets as they are called here in Newfoundland (since they are above ground, but can be underground bunker things like shown here.) The fans are for the air conditioning systems, and are not pressurized and very safe to work in. The mostly contain a DMS RLCM (Remote Line Card Module) or RSC (Remote Switching Center) or the ESS equivalent. There are also most times DSLAMS interconnected with the mini frame inside (with lightening/gas filled line protectors). If anyone is interested I can post some pics of the complete insides of one, but for now here are some of the DMS RLCM found in one:

Top of the switch:
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Middle:
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Bottom:
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The inside of one of the line card drawers.
Each one of those seperate cards provides dial-tone and ringing to each line pair (say your house line,) the modules are interchangable with other types, ex: ISDN, coin dial, multi-party lines and other types of connections.
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A closeup of the top of the switch with the DMS 200 and RLCM stickers on it:
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And lastly an Office Alarm System box, it displays lights of different failures and provides auditory feedback should something fail:
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Anyone want some more info or a detailed description? :)

#15 chronomex

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Posted 21 June 2009 - 04:06 PM

I wonder how exactly the idea of a "mini C.O." got started... :-/

Way back a long time ago the Bell System played with the idea of pushing the last stage of electromechanical (crossbar) switching out to a box mounted on a pole. There were two major challenges they had to deal with:
  • Powering the module, and
  • Making a concentrator-only call not have to loop back around in the CO
The power in these trials was provided over normal copper loops, rather than AC power on-site. This provided reliability but was a rather dirty hack, and the crossbar switch modules had to be made different than normal CO switches. Now that telcos are out of the reliability business, they have no problem using commercial AC.

The other problem, making intraconcentrator calls not loop back around at the CO's junctor circuit, was pretty hard. It required modifying the path-finding logic in the switch, which, since it was wired in relay logic, was non-trivial.

At the time, it almost always turned out to be cheaper to run extra copper out (or implement pair-gain carrier) than to post a concentrator out on a pole in the neighborhood.

#16 trevelyn

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Posted 21 June 2009 - 10:52 PM

wow that is amazing, truly amazing...

#17 IndexPhinger

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Posted 22 June 2009 - 12:36 AM

yeah, the ones here are "pressurised", they just keep the air slightly turbulent to keep dust and animals out of there.

#18 trevelyn

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Posted 25 June 2009 - 07:59 AM

jayeennenn from "this is a recording" posted some good pics in reply to this post in the Phoneloser forums here:

http://www.phonelose...hp?topic=4319.0

#19 Skunkworks

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Posted 01 July 2009 - 11:26 PM

I saw one of these in a recent housing development in verizon territory today, sitting behind a bus stop, next to the distribution transformers for a few dozen townhomes. Come to think of it I've seen a few of these around before but I never really knew what they were until this thread.

@chronomex, wow, interesting. I guess another advantage in modern times for having a frame out in the field is higher DSL speeds, even though internet over fiber is the next big thing... Also interesting (although thinking of it, obvious) that a frame goes down when AC mains is out. I'd think it would be a good design feature to have battery back up in these for at least a few hours though.




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