The Side Effect of Five 9’s (or almost Five 9’s)

A few days back I went and picked up the phone, a rather ordinary thing to do. However, for the first time in my life when I picked up the phone there was no dial tone. So weird was this that I spent the next hour running around looking for other phones to try since my immediate thinking was ‘it can’t possibly be the phone line, it must be the £10.00 phone’.

After trying three different phones and a fax machine I was finally convinced – the phone line was dead. In 29 years of my existence this was the first time this had ever happened. While it doesn’t quite measure up to the much sought after 99.999% uptime (otherwise known as “five 9’s”) it is relatively close when calculated over the duration of my life at 99.9976%.

It is interesting however, that because of the incredible reliability of the telephone systems and the precedent set by 29 years of uninterrupted service my negative reaction to the outage and expectation of the speed at which it should get resolved was greatly amplified. I had no immediate critical need for the phone at the time but it suddenly became very important that no matter what it be rectified as quickly as possible. You’d think that having had 29 problem-free years of service you’d be willing to throw them a little break here and there, apparently not!