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Sep 14, 2001 : Telecoms Work on Reconnecting Wall St.

September 14, 2001 - The disaster that ravaged Manhattan's financial district also crippled the lifeline of cables that ran beneath the city, connecting people inside the area to the outside world.

In order to ensure that trading resumes by next week, telecommunicationscompanies are rerouting data and laying new cable around the battered areaand powering the transmissions with diesel generators in certain cases.
"That's the most telecommunications-intensive square mile in the world,"Verizon Communications spokeman Jim Smith told Associated Press. "Ourcustomers are desperate, scared and hopeful that we're moving along. All wecan do is ask for their patience as we find out what's going on."
No carrier seemed completely sure that the infrastructure would be readywhen trading kicks off. "We won't know what the damage is until we try tolight up our customers," said Peter Thonis, also a Verizon spokesman. "We'redoing that one by one by one."
In Verizon's switching building at 140 West St., which controls 40 percentof lower Manhattan's telephone lines and 20 percent of those used by the NewYork Stock Exchange, girders from a nearby crumbling skyscraper fell throughits brick walls, smashing computer equipment and leaving a half-inch layerof dust and sediment inside, Smith said.
The carrier was pumping floodwater Thursday from four of the building's fivesub-basements, where its huge backbone cables are divided into smaller linesthat meanderunderneath New York streets. Smith said the soaked cables andswitches needed to be dried out before they are tested. However, someunderground lines outdoors can't be tested or fixed, said Smith, because "wehave manholes covered with tons of rubble."
Verizon was considering laying temporary cables on top of the street, insideprotective pipe or conduit, Smith said. Verizon, which is missing 10 workersin the disaster, has 14,000 employees currently working in New York, Thonissaid.
Some of WorldCom's switching stations in the area received only intermittentelectric service Thursday and relied diesel generators to stay online, saidWorldCom spokeswoman Linda Laughlin. Since it acquired Internet serviceprovider UUNet Technologies, WorldCom has become one of the largest digitaldata carriers serving the district.
Besides the telecoms, local contractors like Hugh O'Kane Datacom werethreading new cable under the street, bypassing the damaged local loops offiber running under or near the destroyed World Trade Center. "Some of theseloops have been knocked out," said company president Hugh O'Kane. "You haveto cut off the part of the network that goes through the damaged area andreconnect it to a usable network."
Laughlin said WorldCom was working around the damage by programming itsswitches and routers to send data through alternate circuits borderingbroken lines. "We're taking a circuit from one route that may not be inoperation, to an alternate route that is," Laughlin said. "We already hadadditional capacity built in." The NYSE and other markets planned a fulltest of communications and other market infrastructure systems on Saturday.

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