A Philadelphia police department official this week supported what Motorola has been saying for the past couple of months: that recent troubles with the two-year-old system were someone else’s fault, in this case Verizon Communications.

In December, Philadelphia Lodge No. 5 of the Fraternal Order of Police held a press conference criticizing the 800 MHz system, citing three alleged system failures that month. The union further alleged that the system’s unreliability was putting officers and the public at risk.

However, a thorough review of the system since then showed that it is working properly and that the alleged failures stemmed from “human errors” committed by Verizon technicians, according to Charles Brennan, the police department’s deputy commissioner of technology.

“We have not had a major problem with the Motorola system since August of last year--it has been very, very stable,” Brennan said. “It is very clear to us that the Verizon network to support this was not architected correctly. In hindsight, we don’t think they tested what they put in.”

To confirm this assessment, Brennan said the police department has insisted that Verizon test “every single circuit,” a process that will begin next week and continue through March 10.

“We’re testing every T1 to every console, and I’m insisting that they pull an actual T1 so I can see it fail over to the backup T1s,” Brennan said. “I want very intrusive testing to make sure this works the way it’s supposed to. Verizon is very confident now. In all of the tests they’ve done so far, they haven’t been able to fail the system. All their circuits seem to have been straightened out, so we felt a whole lot better about what’s going on.”

One of the alleged incidents cited by the FOP occurred when a Sonet ring into which a T1 connected failed. According to Brennan, the Sonet ring passed through a private building in Philadelphia’s Center City section. One night, the company that owned the building was doing some electrical work and had the Sonet ring on an uninterruptible power supply.

“After eight hours, the UPS pooped out, and for some reason we lost the Sonet ring, we lost the whole network,” Brennan said. “From our point of view, and I think Verizon recognizes this too, the Sonet ring should not have been affected by that.”

Another outage occurred when a Verizon field technician inadvertently left a T1 in test mode. At midnight, the police department flips its primary T1s over to the backup system; the next day, each line is flipped back to the primary circuit. “We do this to make sure lines are working,” Brennan said.

On the night the T1 was left in test mode, when the flip occurred, “the line essentially wasn’t there,” Brennan said. “I can take human error. Those things are going to happen. It was the sonnet ring incident that convinced us there was something seriously wrong with what Verizon did.”

Nevertheless, many of the claims of system failure that made their way into the consumer press were “blown out of proportion or flat out wrong,” Brennan said.

“We figured that the system was up over 17,000 hours, and it was actually unavailable for only a minute or two over that whole time because the backup systems always worked effectively,” he said.

Motorola is working “very closely” with Verizon to work out the kinks, said John McFadden, a special advisor to Motorola. “We are actively working with Verizon on the 30-day test, going through all the lines, through everything, to make sure [everything works],” McFadden said. “They’ve been very cooperative and we’ve been cooperative with them.”