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Industry: Internet and other systems stay up

Tue, 09/11/2001 - 8:00pm
Anne Kerven

Cable and Internet systems stayed up and running despite the terrorist attacks in New York City, although hubs and antennae in and on the World Trade Center went down.

Time Warner Cable has a system "which does serve all of Manhattan," as well as Brooklyn, Queens and other parts of the city, says TWC spokesman Michael Luftman. The company has facilities on 23rd Street, which are "sound and unaffected," he says.

The system was minimally affected by power outages closer to the devastated areas, but the greater part had complete service. Luftman says it did "lose a couple of signals when the tower went down," including in its WOR channel 9 and WNJU Spanish-language station, which used the antennae on top of the towers.

No employees were injured or killed, he says.

TWC is running with a reduced staff, he says. "It's hard for people to get in from the boroughs." Now, "We're going to continue to do what we're here to do."

At Charter Communications, "We don't really serve any of those areas that were affected," says spokesman Andy Morgan. "I checked late yesterday and there were no reported problems." The company did see its Internet use jump, but hasn't been able to quantify it yet, he says.

Charter also put MSNBC on an open channel for its basic customers in Wisconsin. "So those who don't normally get cable news could," he says.

Charter does "have people in New York" at the NAMIC conference, Morgan says. "I talked to them yesterday and they're basically stranded there. … Everything's boarded up; they're in a daze."

SCTE President and CEO John Clark says he hasn't heard of any impact on the industry. "It's still pretty quiet," he says. Clark was heading for the train station, on his way to the Diversity events, when the first plane hit. He and his wife were "arguing whether I should still go." When the second plane hit. "I knew I wasn't going," he says.

Dr. Ted Woo, SCTE's director of standards, is in New York and is "fine," he says, but is trying to find a way out of the city.

Overall, the Internet did well "because that's what it was designed to do," says John S. Quarterman, founder and CTO of Matrix.net, an Internet measurement and tracking firm. The Internet shares resources in a robust and distributed manner, he says. No single entity runs the whole thing.

"It's difficult to come up with scenarios where severe problems on one (point, node or ISP) will bring them all down," he says. Yesterday's events, while severe in terms of casualties, "are two cities. The Internet is global."

Still, the area had a "big dip in reachability," he says. Typical reachability — measured by sending out probes from different areas to certain destinations and seeing if responses come back — is 96 percent. "After the center attack, it dipped to 88 percent," he says. "It didn't completely recover — it went to 94 percent an hour later."

Manhattan has hubs and connections very close to the towers, and one, in Tower 7, is down, and some cable was affected, he says.

Some co-location facilities are running on generator power, but there's no power and the backup generator isn't running "because there are no people there," he says. "It's been evacuated."

Nonworking cables were rerouted, but between overload and diminished capability from rerouting, the area isn't at optimal performance.

As far as Washington, D.C., events, the Pentagon isn't an Internet hub, Quarterman says, and its tragedy didn't affect the network.

"The gist of it is there were effects on Web servers (being) overloaded and some effects on other nodes, specifically in Manhattan near the damage," he notes. But despite that and the rerouting, the "Internet is operating."

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