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  ...presents...                      ISDN:
                     Fucking the Vacuum Cleaner Attachments
                                                         by Reid Fleming

                      >>> a cDc publication.......1993 <<<
                        -cDc- CULT OF THE DEAD COW -cDc-
  ____       _     ____       _       ____       _     ____       _       ____

     A short explanation is in order here.  Reid originally wrote this article
at the behest of the staff of _Mondo 2000_.  Once finished, however, certain
political entanglements developed in the upper echelons of the magazine, and
Queen Mu, _Mondo_'s Magazine Dominatrix opted instead to hand the writing
assignment over to the guy she was currently boning (who, rumor has it, can
barely operate a computer, let alone write about technology).  We wonder how
much research he had to do.

     As a result, Reid has opted to publish this article through the Bovikazi.
Hope you enjoy it.

                                                         -- Omega

This article exists thanks to the following people:

Brian Valente                  R.M. Dudley Corporation
Jamie Agius                    Pacific Bell
Aaron Braunstein               DataHaus
Telecommunications Branch      California Public Utilities Commission
Regina LePak                   PictureTel Corporation
Igor                           France Telecom
My Bovine Brethren             cDc

          The connection between the net and heaven is explained in
          the following passage taken from the _Tao Te Ching_: "The
          net of heaven... is wide-meshed but lets nothing through."

                            -- J.C. Cirlot, _A Dictionary of Symbols

     During his campaign, Bill Clinton repeated his goals to foster high
technology and improve our nation's infrastructure.  ISDN is both - it's the
totally digital public information highway, capable of carrying phone conver-
sations, computer/fax data, live video, and lots more.  It's the global nervous
system for the twenty-first century.

     Welcome to the INTEGRATED SERVICES DIGITAL NETWORK.  Its proper name may
turn out to be "The Net."

     Britain began its web in 1987, with France following in 1988.  Last year,
the US began full-scale implementation.  Now AT&T, MCI, and Sprint all connect
to the network.  It's also running in Germany, Belgium, Japan, Denmark,
Switzerland, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Norway, Italy, Hong Kong, Australia, and
the Netherlands.

     The Consultative Committee for International Telephone and Telegraph
defined ISDN.  The CCITT are the people from the International
Telecommunications Union who hammered out all the details that will let you
call any county's ISDN network without any hassles.  These standards spell out
the particulars of the physical connectors as well as basic supplementary
services, and let you use 64 kbps ISDN channels to call both digital and analog

     All of which to be explained shortly.  The thing to keep in mind about
ISDN standards is that they describe an all-digital, multichannel system with
out-of-band signaling for use around the world.

     ALL-DIGITAL means that everything traveling across the network is, on a
basic level, nothing but binary bits.  You know, ones and zeros, that kind of
thing.  Even voice communications will be digital.  This makes for clearer data
transmission, which really means more efficient conversations between computers
and very crisp phone quality.

     MULTICHANNEL means that you've got more than one communication line open
to you simultaneously.  Think of it as having two or more phone lines instead
of one.  Call waiting isn't multichannel, because you can't talk to both
callers at the same time.  Neither is 3-way calling, because all of you have to
talk on the same channel.  If you've got 2 separate channels, you can call
another computer and talk to your mom over the phone at the same time, using
the same hookup.

     OUT-OF-BAND SIGNALING is a little harder to describe.  But let's compare
it to what we have now with analog circuits: in-band signaling.  Currently, the
same phone lines that you talk on are the ones that the switching systems use
to locate free trunk circuits for your calls.

     This is what made blue boxing possible - you could pretend that you were a
phone computer by sending the sounds that the switching equipment figured could
only come from authorized machinery.  The systems couldn't tell that the box
tones weren't legitimate routing instructions, so you could call anywhere for

     Well, so much for that.  Out-of-band signaling means that the routing
information used by the switching equipment travels on its own channel,
parallel to the network.  This will render blue boxes fossil artifacts.

     ISDN hookups come in two styles, one for small uses and the other big

     The "small" configuration is called the BASIC RATE INTERFACE.  With a BRI,
you get access to two "bearer" channels and one "data" channel.  Because of
this, many people refer to the BRI as a 2B+D hookup - just get used to it.
You'll use BRI connections for small key systems, PBXs and individual terminals
(desktop computers, low-end video conference units, hi-fi audio conference
units, fax machines, etc.).  In other words, this is what you're going to have
at home.

     The BEARER CHANNELS each offer a bandwidth of 64 kilobits per second, or
kbps.  That means you can send 64,000 bits of information each second on a B
channel.  In modem speak, one bit per second equals 1 baud.  Regular phone
lines have a bandwidth of about 19.2 kbps, or 19,200 baud.

     B-channel information has no defined protocols or restrictions.  France
Telecom's _ISDN: A User's Guide_ says "They are simply 'transparent,'
circuit-switched data pipes, and can provide a connection between any two users
on the network, anywhere in the world served by ISDN."  In other words, you're
free to compress and encrypt information for network transmission.

     Not only that, but you can use both B channels at once for sending or
receiving information, effectively doubling the bandwidth to 128 kbps.

     The DATA CHANNEL is for signaling, mostly.  In a BRI, its bandwidth is 16
kbps.  If you want, you can actually send computer data across it at 9.6 kbps;
however, apparently large information blocks would travel in spurts, depending
on switching traffic density.  Recommended uses for sending data over the D
channel are for burglar alarm reports, credit card inquiries, stuff like that.

     The other configuration for an ISDN hookup is called the PRIMARY RATE
INTERFACE.  Instead of a 2B+D setup, the PRI consists of 23 B channels at 64
kbps and one D channel, also at 64 kbps.  Many people will refer to the PRI as
a 23B+D.  (In Europe, the PRI is 30 B channels and a D channel.  Who cares?
It's all compatible.)

     People are using PRIs to connect medium and large PBXs, multiplexers and
mainframes to the network.  (France Telecom's pamphlet says "ISDN multiplexers
can be used to connect several pieces of equipment {a PBX, LAN, mainframe,
video conference unit or the like} to one PRI.  They also allow for n x 64kbps
bandwidth-on-demand applications such as video conferencing and LAN
interconnection."  Sounds cool.)

     At press time, AT&T and some local telcos are the only people you can get
BRI connections from.  MCI and Sprint, as far as I can tell, only offer the PRI
configuration.  I'm not 100% solid on this, because MCI and Sprint headquarters
haven't returned my calls.

     Whatever configuration you're using, there are specified supplementary
services that all ISDN carriers are capable of offering, depending on local
regulations.  They're the Integrated Services of the Digital Network.

o CALLER IDENTIFICATION tells the called party the caller's phone number.  It's
  usually called Automatic Number Identification or Calling Line ID.  (In
  California, the Public Utilities Commission has approved Caller ID only if
  the telco also offers line blocking, absolute blocking, and per-call
  blocking.  For various reasons, the California carriers aren't offering any
  CLI services for now.)

o USER-TO-USER SIGNALING allows you to specify 32-character messages to be
  displayed with the standard D-channel SET-UP, CONNECT, DISCONNECT, or RELEASE

o CALL DEFLECTION lets you refuse a call and reroute it to a different number,
  specified in your refusal message.

o SUBADDRESSING allows you to specify with an extra four digits which ISDN
  device at a customer's PBX you want to connect with.  A phone, or a fax
  maybe, whatever.

o CALL HOLD allows you to put someone on hold.  Then you can make a new call,
  or pick up the old one, whatever.

o TERMINAL PORTABILITY lets you put a call on hold for three  minutes, during
  which time you can pick it up again at a different place.

o ADVISE OF CHARGE lets you know at any time how much this call is going to
  cost if you hang up now.

o CALL TOTAL COST tells you after you hang up how much money you wasted
  downloading GIFs.

o GLOBAL CALL FORWARDING is self-explanatory.

o CALL WAITING informs you someone's waiting to talk to you, along with their
  phone number and anything specified in the CONNECT D-channel message.

o CALL-BY-CALL SERVICE SELECTION lets a PRI customer reallocate his/her B
  channels to different devices at will, as well as add and subtract lines.

o CALL REDIRECTION lets companies set up computerized rules for call spillover.
  For instance, a branch on the East coast might automatically redirect calls
  to West coast offices after 5:00 PM EST.

                                Details, Details

     Your central office, or local switch, is that fenced-off telco building
probably eight or ten blocks away from your house.  You can't pay your bill
there, because its basic function is to house the equipment which connects you
and your neighbors to other COs and long distance lines.

     For you to get hooked up to the ISDN, your local switch needs Signaling
System 7, a protocol that the FCC has required to be installed nationwide by
April of 1993.  The other thing it needs is the latest and greatest equipment
for handling calls.

     In the San Francisco Bay area, that means either 5ESS or DMS100.  5ESS is
the fifth version of AT&T's Electronic Switching System.  DMS100 is Northern
Telecom's baby.  In 'Frisco, there are only 3 COs with advanced digital
switching (Bush-Pine, Market, and Folsom) - they all use the DMS100.  South San
Francisco, the airport, San Jose, and the East Bay all use 5ESS.

     Other companies make advanced digital switches, not just AT&T and Northern
Telecom; for instance, Siemens, NEC, and Fujitsu.  But you see the same types
again and again because, like for any equipment, it's cheaper buying in

     If your CO hasn't been upgraded to digital yet, you probably have an old
AT&T analog switch, 1AESS.  These were built and installed before Ma Bell took
a few hits from the antitrust-law hatchet.  Apparently, the 1A's are really
tough and have a 100,000 line capacity.  They can do call waiting, call
forwarding, etc., but not ISDN.

     Instead, they support a service called SDS-56, or Switched 56.  It's the
phone company's incomplete solution to the bandwidth bottleneck of regular
phone lines.  It provides a single channel at 56 kbps.  If you want to use the
line for simultaneous voice and data, you need special equipment on both sides
of the connection.

     Also, because Switched 56 employs in-band signaling, typical set-up time
for international calls is between 30 and 40 seconds, compared to 4 or 5
seconds for international ISDN calls.  Despite these shortcomings, more
customers have Switched 56 than ISDN now, because of availability.

                                    Now What?

     Let's say your local switch is all set for ISDN.  You shell out the
installation fee (currently about $800), and you're all wired-up.

     Your ISDN circuit begins at the wall with a mundane RJ11 jack.  (That's
the kind you're used to now.)  You connect that to a box called a NETWORK
TERMINATING INTERFACE, or NT1.  The specific NT1 you need depends on the type
of switching at the CO: 5ESS, DMS100, whatever.  Out of the NT1 comes a nifty
4-wire RJ45 plug, that looks essentially like the RJ11 but has an extra square
bump on the side so you can't stick it into an RJ11 socket.  (You _can_ push an
RJ11 plug into an RJ45 socket, but nothing will happen.)

     The mutant RJ45 plug goes into a TERMINAL ADAPTER, which could be a
stand-alone box or built into an ISDN device (typically a digital phone, video
conferencing hookup or ISDN computer card).  You'd want a stand-alone terminal
adapter if you had a lot of ISDN devices sharing one outlet.  Many adapters and
devices have one or two RJ11 sockets so you don't have to throw away your
analog phone - you can use them in your circuit.  And, as long as you pay your
bill, you're set.

     Right now, though, ISDN has limited availability, mostly in downtown areas
of major cities.  That's because most of the customers are research &
development firms and Fortune 500 companies.  Otherwise, ISDN is being marketed
mainly for Community of Interest applications.  This means groups out that
could use quick data exchange, like lawyers, realtors, and bankers, for whom
ISDN would be a good idea.

     Big players in the computer industry (Apple, IBM, Hewlett-Packard, DEC)
are developing terminal interfaces for their computers and other products.

     Apple, for example, has released a Macintosh ISDN NuBus card.  (Although
the product doesn't recognize standard telephone DTMF noises, third-party
developers are using software work-arounds to get it to function.)  Compression
Labs, Inc. makes the Teleos Mac Terminal Adapter/Series 100, and Hayes sells
what it calls the ISDN Extender (which I think is also a terminal adapter).

     Terminal adapter cards are now about $900, but eventually the prices
should fall to about $50 when someone miniaturizes it to a single chip.

                              Meet George Jetson...

     Many large and medium-sized companies are using video conferencing systems
instead of traveling for meetings.  That way, they save a lot of travel time
and expense.

     If you're interested in doing serious video conferencing stuff, you need
what's called a CODEC (coder/decoder).  The one I saw at PacBell was about the
size of a dinky 1.2 cubic foot refrigerators you see all over the dorms.  These
things process video information going both ways over ISDN or Switched 56

     Most systems let you step between sampling rates of 112 kb to 384 kb or
higher.The higher the transfer rate, the more B channels from a PRI you need,
and the better the quality in resolution and motion.  These systems range
between about $15,000 and $100,000.

     Of course, if you don't have tens of thousands of dollars to throw at a
dedicated video conferencing box, you might want a PC-based system.  Two
outfits that produce video conferencing systems are PictureTel and Compression
Labs, Inc.  Both of them make video interfaces for the IBM and Macintosh,
respectively, as well as full-scale video conference systems.

     When are we going to see home video phones?  Well, AT&T already
manufactures one for regular phone circuits, but it's practically a waste of
money.  It's not until blanket ISDN implementation that you'll be able to see
the called party in realistic motion and color.

     The problem is, practically no one has a BRI hookup.  Therefore, no one's
producing ISDN home video phones.  Which means that even if the phone company
offered BRI service, you wouldn't want it, which further still squelches
home-user products.  Don't hold your breath for a cool ISDN video phone; it may
take a while.

     In case you've been wondering, ISDN will not be able to carry high
definition television signals - the HDTV bandwidth is way too big to be
practical.  The only way you'll get HDTV is over the airwaves or from your
cable company.

     Regular TV signals may be another story, but if the FCC isn't kidding,
then we should see the end of all NTSC television broadcasts by about the year
2008.  In that case, there won't be any regular TV programming to pump over the
ISDN, unless you want to copy old videotapes over the network.

                       I Can't Think of A Good Subheading

     CENTREX(TM) is the name that PacBell gave to its PRI service.  PacBell
also throws in an extra feature, called VIRTUAL KEY SYSTEM.

     If your place of business can internally route calls (meaning: put them on
hold, transfer them to other peoples' desks), then you've got some kind of key
system.  You know that closet containing the wall-mounted rack with telephone
wires snaking around the little metal posts?  Probably next to the rack, on the
floor or attached to the wall, is a box.  This box probably has a name painted
on it, possibly Merlin(TM).

     Anyway, this box handles all of the details when you put a call on hold,
or whatever.  It does the dirty work.  With this service, you can transfer
calls, put them on hold, just like using the box, except there _is_ no box.
All of the neat features happen inside the computers at your CO.

     Of course, CENTREX(TM)  supports service selection, so you can change your
configuration really quickly.  If you have seasonal business cycles, you can
order less lines for your virtual key during the slow months and more lines
during the busy ones.  And you're not stuck with a piece of machinery that
you'd have to sell if your business outgrows, say, a 20-line capacity.

     Another cool feature of CENTREX(TM) service is called "call appearance." 
It lets one B channel appear to be 15.  Let's say you have call appearance, and
30 friends call you at the same time.  Okay, you have a BRI hookup at home,
which (if you remember) has two B channels.  If you have two ISDN phones, you
can carry on two separate conversations at once.  The trick is, you can also
put someone on hold and talk to somebody else waiting to hear your voice.  Each
B channel can have 15 people on hold while you're talking to somebody.

     This is perfect for pizza delivery places, because for a monthly charge of
$25, they get what amounts to 30 lines, with two people taking orders at a

                          Compu$erve On Growth Hormones

     Eventually, we should see the advent of huge, international online
services that'll crush even Compuserve - actually, they'll probably be the ones
to sponsor it.  Nowadays, only the nub-heads with modems can romp around
bulletin boards and the Internet.  Soon, practically anyone will be able to do
it, probably even from payphones.  These services will have to be gigantic,
monstrous things.  Gives me the creeps, actually.

     In France, their version of this is called Minitel.  I think it's
primarily a nationwide email system.  Apparently it's a big hit with average
citizens and university students.  I bet that the day Compuserve ISDN goes
online, half of the people you talk to will be named Michel or Claire. 
Minitel's had a big impact on student organizing - a couple of years ago French
university students put together a nationwide anti-government demonstration
to protest some unpopular decision or other.  My memory isn't that good, all
right?  I think it was either the government planned to close some schools or
raise tuitions.  Anyway, thousands of students across the country took to the
streets the next day, and the government reversed its decision.  The protest
organizers credited the Minitel system for a large part of their success.

                      Daddy, I Want An Oompa-Loompa _now_!

     I spoke to only one person who was willing to guess when ISDN will be
largely implemented.  His estimate for widespread California implementation is
2 or 3 years.  Much of the East Coast is already wired for it, so the New
Yorkers will be playing with it sooner.

     According to people at the California Public Utilities Commission, PacBell
intends to have all of its COs digital in four years.  The program is called
ATD97 - Advanced Technology Deployment by 1997.  All PacBell COs would then be
capable of ISDN.  Not only that, they'll be throwing away the loading coils in
the phone circuits which analog switches need to boost signals, but are
incompatible with digital ones.

     The salespeople at PacBell said that one reason they haven't already
upgraded their COs to provide ISDN is that the Public Utilities Commission has
to approve any proposed changes.  This isn't true.  According to the people I
spoke to at the PUC, since 1 January 1990, the phone carriers are free to do
this kind of upgrade without any oversight or approval.  In fact, they're
encouraged to take financial risks of this type.

     What about the Europeans?  They've got a big ISDN network chugging along
already.  Why won't the American telcos push as hard as the foreign ones?

     The difference is that many foreign countries have a nationalized
telephone service.  France is home to the flagship ISDN system, Numeris.  The
French government decided in 1988 to tear out the old phone system and install
the all-digital version.  In less than three years, they replaced virtually
every part of the French system and went so far as to _give_ every customer an
ISDN terminal.  The terminals came with a telephone handset, keyboard and

     To further speed people's acceptance and use of the system, the government
stopped printing bus schedules and telephone books on paper - now that
information is solely available over the network.

     Unfortunately, _this_ mountain isn't coming to Mohammed - you aren't
likely to get a free ISDN terminal in the US.  It's not how we do things here.
But, who knows?  I guess it depends on how badly the telcos want to push it.

     Personally, I can't wait.  That's what made the ISDN hunt so exasperating.
I'm disappointed that it's taking so long for the US to get into this
technology.  We didn't even adopt the standard until 1991, four years behind
the French.

     If you want ISDN, you've got to hunt it down.  Call your telco accont
executive and ask if your central office supports ISDN.  If not, ask when it's
supposed to happen.

     If you call France Telecom and ask nicely, I bet they'll send you a copy
of their _ISDN: A User's Guide_.  It does a nice job of explaining the standard
and applications, and it also has a great glossary of terms.  France Telecom's
main US office is in New York.

     Maybe the best thing you could do is talk to that friend of a friend of
Bill Clinton's you used to know.  Or mail a copy of this article to the White
House.  Perhaps the right person there, eager to make good on campaign
promises, will steer the country toward a worthy infrastructure investment -
the national implementation of the ISDN.
 _______  __________________________________________________________________
/ _   _ \|Demon Roach Undrgrnd.806/794-4362|Kingdom of Shit.....806/794-1842|
 ((___)) |Cool Beans!..........510/THE-COOL|Polka AE {PW:KILL}..806/794-4362|
 [ x x ] |The Alcazar..........401/782-6721|Moody Loners w/Guns.415/221-8608|
  \   /  |The Works............617/861-8976|Finitopia...........916/673-8412|
  (' ')  |ftp - zero.cypher.com in pub/cdc |ftp - ftp.eff.org in pub/cud/cdc|
   (U)   |==================================================================|
  .ooM   |Copr. 1993 cDc communications by Reid Fleming        04/01/93-#228|
\_______/|All Rights Drooled Away.                 SIX GLORIOUS YEARS of cDc|