NPSTN → About
N·P·S·T·N, n. 1. Northern Pacific Switched Telecommunications Network 2. Novelty Public Switched Telephone Network 3. a historical recreation of the mid-20th century North American phone network.
NPSTN is the world's most authentic, feature-rich switched and simulated recreation of the mid-20th century North American phone network. NPSTN allows for seamless time-travel into the past — by telephone, that is! NPSTN connects old switching equipment together, but it's also much more than that. It's people connected to each other, and to the past. It's a unique experience, and it doesn't exist in any one place — it reaches out through every telephone set on the network to touch the lives of its members.
Core Values & Tenets
NPSTN is a network, but it's ultimately a network connecting people together. Several core values are central to everything comprising NPSTN:
- Preservation — NPSTN embraces the historian in all of us. NPSTN is a living recreation of the mid-20th century North American phone network, and as such, its members dedicate significant time and energy to both historical research and modern-day preservation. NPSTN is the intersection of cool yesteryear's technology and today's cutting edge technology. The network aims to preserve the PSTN, both the historic PSTN and the modern-day one.
- Quality & Service — NPSTN offers an unparallelled variety of network services, all with the goal of connecting its members to the times of yore and tomorrow simultaneously. We believe in doing things right, doing them in style, setting the highest standards, and aiming for the highest accuracy, usability, and quality. We don't cut corners or sacrifice authenticity.
- Innovation — One constant at NPSTN is continuous improvement. New features and capabilities are always being added to the network. The glory days of the U.S. phone network may be getting more distant, but they are becoming more and more fleshed out on NPSTN with each passing day. We're a community of tinkerers, creators, and innovators, always asking "What more?" and "What next?". We don't let barriers get in our way. Combining relays, AI, and machine learning is a regular occurence on the network. We frequently push Asterisk to the bounds of what it was designed to do, and when we exceed them, we patch the source code ourselves, or submit bug fixes to the Asterisk development team for resolution, improving the software for everyone.
- Security — Security is built in to everything part of NPSTN. It's not just an IT buzzword — it's essential to making sure our members have the best possible experience and that network interference is eliminated. NPSTN was designed from the ground up with modern security in mind, and rigorous security practices have allowed us to enjoy this hobby with minimal disruption.
- Community — NPSTN is a community comprised of its members. The network is entirely community-run by volunteers, investing their own time and money into it. The Board of Directors is responsible for continuing to bring the network into the past (and the future) and for general network administration. The NPSTN Operators group is comprised of volunteers helping to connect NPSTN members together the old-fashioned way — with a human touch.
- Cooperation — As a community, mutual respect and cooperation are central to the way we treat each other and operate the network. NPSTN has a strict No Tolerance policy for abuse and harassment. On other mailing lists and in other hobbies, people sometimes think it's okay to attack each other. That's not the case here. If you don't abide by the NPSTN Member Compact, you will be moderated or banned from the network.
What is NPSTN?
First of all, what is NPSTN not? It's not a way to make free phone calls from point A to point B. It's not a common carrier public telecom provider. That's what the PSTN is for. If you came here looking for a free way to call Timbuktu, you came to the wrong place.
NPSTN is a VoIP phone network that ties new and vintage telephone switching systems together, connecting telephone collectors, phreaks, and enthusiasts. NPSTN is a cutting edge network to facilitate yesterday's and tomorrow's communications needs. Based almost fully on Bell System standards and practices, NPSTN is the most period-correct, functional, and feature-rich collectors' network. Anyone can join NPSTN, and you don't need a full switchroom's worth of equipment to get started, either — you can be remotely homed off of somebody else's switch, or if you want to get your hands dirty, you can run your own tandem, be it electromechanical or electronic.
Here are just a few of the key features of the network:
- 24/7 network operator services — human-powered, backed by automation
- Stringent, secure, and high-integrity call routing
- StepNet (call tandeming)
- Dynamic API-based routing & billing
- Period-correct mock toll ticketing (billing) system
- ADCHP (dynamic network features to inter-op with old switchgear)
- Automatic Route Selection and Alternate Routing
- AUTOVON recreation with MLPP, based on military and Bell System specs
- ProjectMF 2.0 (MF/SF/DP & coin denomination tone detection to modern Asterisk)
- Coin Trunks — designed to bring real payphones to life with little to no equipment required!
- NPSTN Cadence Plan — your phone wasn't made to ring just one way!
- Party lines (you can be on a real party line shared by other people!)
- Party line conferences (meet other telephone phreaks & geeks!)
- Support for magneto phones and "full" manual service.
- Telegrams via USPS, email, and telephone.
- Centralized test numbers and features
- "Phreak friendly" culture
- Switch based dial tone
- Switch based vertical service codes and custom calling features
- Extensibility (seamless maintenance and secure and controlled inter-switch feature operation)
- Simulated IMTS mobile service on digital-AMPS (2G and 3G)
- DID Exchange lines (Both PSTN support and NPSTN support)
- Toll-free access for members
- SITCOM (communicate free from payphones accross the U.S.)
- Electromechanical switch simulation (live crosstalk, simulated announcment drums, professionally looped audio)
- Extensive, thorough, tested 150+ page documentation to answer any and all questions, great for novices and experts alike.
- Internal NPSTN System Practices specifications ensuring NPSTN systems and their administrators adhere to a high level of consistency.
The best part? It's all free and community-run. NPSTN is a non-corporate and not-for-profit endeavor made possible by community volunteers.