Something I found interesting: elevator emergency phone edition

This is just something I found interesting, it’s not new, it’s not groundbreaking, probably well known, just I ran across the process yesterday on an elevator we’re working on.

Why is Paul the IT guy working on an elevator? Well that’s because we changed the POTS (plain old telephone service,) in the phone closet (getting rid of Lumen *finally*,) and needed to verify that the emergency call box in the elevator actually works. I’ve been the elevator emergency box tester for a few years now, press the button, talk to the responder saying “hey, it’s so and so and we’re just testing that the box works,” followed by going to the elevator room and logging that the thing worked so when the county inspector comes there’s a scribble that I tested it.

POTS lines, for those that don’t know, carry their own power from a CO (central office,) to your location. They’re the style that old phone systems were. Couple of strands of copper and you can pull some miniscule power off of them. They make analog phones work. They’re also extremely reliable because the equipment they’re attached to on the phone company side is self monitoring, alerts the phone company when something’s up, and has been basically the same since forever from the user side.

You want an elevator with a POTS line, you want a fire system with a POTS line. I mean, maybe that’s not the case these days, but you did up until recently at least. Codes and insurance keep those things in business.

Anyway, our emergency box in the elevator has a phone number. You can call it but there’s nothing to make a sound on the receiving side. You can call it and it rings and rings and rings. My discovery yesterday however is you can call and let it ring and ring and ring and if someone presses the “press for emergency assistance” button it picks up and you can use it as a phone. Useful? Not really.

Slightly more interesting, at least on our old box it takes about 3-4 seconds for it to realize it’s got a dial tone so if you had a tone generator (your phone perhaps?) you can dial a number before it dials a number as the speaker and mic are on.

Use case? Possibly call someone you dislike and claim you’re a member of the 2600 club.

Ahoy Matey, ye'v looked at the alt text and if you don't know about the Captain Crunch Whistle, go ahead and search for 2600 Captain Crunch and what it did to phones

Thus ends the saga of Paul might have been an ok phone hacker in 1991,

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Paul E King

Paul King started with GoodAndEVO in 2011, which merged with Pocketables, and as of 2018 he's evidently the owner. He lives in Nashville, works at a film production company, is married with two kids. Facebook | Twitter | Donate | More posts by Paul | Subscribe to Paul's posts

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