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Tragedy focuses industry on workers/systems

Mon, 09/10/2001 - 8:00pm
Anne Kerven

This morning's tragic events in New York City and Washington, D.C., have cable companies in the early stages of reaction — mainly sending employees home, if needed, and ensuring their systems' security.

Cox Communications has no systems in New York, says spokeswoman Susan Leepson, but does have an office in the Washington, D.C., suburb of Fairfax, Va. All nonessential employees have been sent home to check on families and avoid traffic tie-ups, but the company did ask for volunteers to keep customer care services going, Leepson says.

AT&T says there's no damage to its long distance network as a result of the emergency but that there was higher than normal calling volume. The company recommended not calling the cities except in emergencies.

A local news station says the company's network was under a lockdown and all of their computers turned off as a precaution. AT&T Broadband spokesman Andrew Johnson says the company doesn't know what is meant by a lockdown and that its systems are up and running, providing video, data and voice.

Customers "need them now more than ever," he says.

The company has taken no measures beyond standard security procedures, he adds.

AOL Time Warner, in New York City's Rockefeller Center, could not be reached. Operators say all circuits are busy.

ExciteAtHome spokeswoman Alison Bowman says bridges in San Francisco, near the company's Redwood City, Calif., headquarters, have shut down and the company is focusing on ensuring all of its employees had returned home from New York. The company has a small office near New York's midtown, which is far away from the World Trade Center, Bowman says.

Philadelphia-based Comcast Corp. representatives did not answer calls and the office left a message to call back during business hours. Its New York PR firm could not be reached.

Robert Smith, who heads Comcast's regional office in New Jersey, says the corporate office was closed, and he did not know why. Comcast has no systems in New York, but does in Washington, D.C., he adds. "It's an extraordinary day in American history," he says. "The closer you get to New York, the more likely you are to have a loved one or friend working there."

Comcast's Washington, D.C., spokesman Mitchell Schmale says the company has had no technical difficulties. Some employees are going home and that's handled on a case-by-case basis, he says, but offices are open and operating.

The World Trade Center had transmitters on its roof for extensive cellular, TV and radio. According to a PBS site, an antenna there technically would be the equivalent of having a 1,360-foot-plus antenna tower in lower Manhattan, with a direct line-of-sight range of at least 45 miles.

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