Signal of hope as phone giant takes control

PUBLISHED : Monday, 22 July, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 22 July, 1996, 12:00am

A typhoon centre has been created in Hongkong Telecom's network control centre to try and prevent a repeat of the overloads and jammed lines caused by last year's Typhoon Kent.

In addition, the Government is ready to ask radio and TV stations to broadcast announcements when the network is near capacity, requesting customers not to make the problem worse.

Fong Yuk-cheung, section manager for network management operations, said there were 'no guarantees' but 'this year we hope to make the situation more secure'.

Last year's problems were caused by calls coming in at the rate of 8 million in 15 minutes, four times normal rates. In an attempt to prevent exchanges overloading entirely, which would leave some areas without any telephone service, the network started rejecting calls.

This meant some customers had to redial 10 or more times to get through, particularly in east Hong Kong Island and West Kowloon. Mr Fong said analysis suggested the problem had been made worse by the Royal Observatory's early warning, telling people a Typhoon Signal No 8 would be raised in three hours, giving them plenty of time to make calls from the office before needing to catch transport.

The typhoon centre, with three staff, would be operational when a Typhoon Signal No 3 was raised and would monitor traffic.

When the signal No 3 is raised routine tasks within the network will be terminated to allow maximum availability for calls, and capacity limits placed on the lines between exchanges to prevent problems in one part of the network spreading.

'We don't want to cascade the problem around the network,' he said.

In addition, if a call cannot be connected the customer will now hear a recorded message, instead of just a tone which will discourage rapid redialling of numbers using the redial key which is the major reason the network experiences problems.