• United States
Senior Editor

A look at NEBS

Jun 30, 20042 mins
Enterprise Applications

* Network Equipment Building System or NEBS

Today I wanted to point you toward one of our Wider Net pieces. You’ll recall out Wider Net stories look at the wackier or sometimes just lighter side of the technology industry.

Our story this week looks at the mysterious world of Network Equipment Building System or NEBS testing.

Our author ( got a look inside the NEBS testing chambers where fire, electromagnetic storms and earthquake simulation takes place – all in the name of science and business of course.

The RBOCs and AT&T require equipment makers that hope to win their business to first run their devices through a gauntlet of about 30 NEBS tests, commonly defined by documents GR-63 for environmental requirements and GR-1089 for electrical ones. The NEBS concept got its start in the 1970s at Bell Labs and the documents are now maintained by Telcordia, which also conducts NEBS testing. While the NEBS criteria is designed for carrier equipment makers, testers say that even some enterprise network equipment winds up getting NEBS certified these days in cases where vendors sell gear into carrier and corporate markets.

Telecom gear needs to survive the flame test as well as an earthquake simulator that tops 7 on the Richter scale, plus make it through chambers that determine whether equipment can handle extreme hot and cold as well as lightning strikes and high altitudes. Sometimes testers, armed with shotguns, even take boxes out back and try to shoot through their cabinets with No. 6 steel shot from 50 feet away.

Verizon is considered by many to be the toughest carrier to satisfy – service providers that require NEBS certification often have special requirements beyond the base standards, though they are trying to lessen such differences to make life easier for equipment makers – and the events of Sept. 11, 2001 only strengthened the carrier’s adherence to the standards. As was well documented in the wake of the terrorist attacks, Verizon’s 140 West St. switching office next to the World Trade Center remained in operation – thanks in part to diesel generators that took over when the DC power was lost – despite the network equipment there being covered with bricks, mortar and in some cases more than an inch of dust.