Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Phone cleaning announcement

On April 1, 2002 Southcoast Bellcom announced preparing to join telephone companies throughout the U.S. in a nationwide "cleaning" of all phone and telecom lines. "We do this about every 10 years," said a Richard Schvanski, spokesperson for the National Telephone Association. "Over time, dust collects in the lines and this leads to weak connections and static, as well as to broken and slow Internet connectivity."

To clean the lines, Schvanski said, all telephone companies will use air compressors at their central locations in each city to blow a blast of air through phone lines and cable networks. The 10-minute process will cause dust to blow through telephone receivers, fax and answering machines, and both traditional PC and DSL modems in homes and offices throughout the U.S. Schvanski explained that most people are being urged to set a newspaper under their telecom device before going to bed Sunday night. The cleaning will be done between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. so as to disturb as few people as possible, he said. In the past, the spokesperson said, some people have put a plastic baggy over their telephone's handset to catch the dust, or wrapped the handset with a cloth to keep dust from getting on their furniture. Cell phones, pagers, and other wireless devices are not affected.

It's a classic April Fool's Day joke that has been around for decades. In 1997 a modern e-mail version of the joke was spread throughout the world announcing that the internet would be shut down for cleaning for twenty-four hours from March 31 until April 2. This cleaning was said to be necessary to clear out the "electronic flotsam and jetsam" that had accumulated in the network. Dead email and inactive ftp, www, and gopher sites would be purged. The cleaning would be done by "five very powerful Japanese-built multi-lingual Internet-crawling robots (Toshiba ML-2274) situated around the world." During this period, users were warned to disconnect all devices from the internet. The message supposedly originated from the "Interconnected Network Maintenance Staff, Main Branch, Massachusetts Institute of Technology."