US ATTACK: AT&T working to reconnect customers affected by attack

AT&T Network Services executives said the company is working around the clock to restore services to customers affected by the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center.

"[Our focus] has been to ensure the quality and performance of the network and to help customers get back in business," said Frank Ianna, president of AT&T Network Services in Bedminster, N.J., in a conference call this afternoon.

Ianna said after the attacks on the World Trade Center (WTC), on the Pentagon and in Pennsylvania, AT&T's Global Network Operations Center experienced a spike in voice and data traffic in New York and metropolitan Washington. Despite the jump in traffic, the network systems held up extremely well, he said.

Immediately after the attacks took place, the biggest obstacles AT&T faced, he said, were to restore the network connections of business customers who were able to remain in their offices near the WTC and to re-engineer or reroute the connections of the 330 businesses forced to relocate.

Ianna said AT&T has been working closely with Verizon Communications to restore services to affected customers.

"We lost some switching capacity because we had a node [containing AT&T equipment] in the basement of the WTC," Ianna said. "So we had to get that capacity back in the network to get customers back in service."

To restore service to those customers, AT&T rerouted service to other fiber-optic cables in the area, explained Ianna. But eventually, the damaged fiber-optic cable will have to be replaced, said AT&T spokesman Dave Johnson. "Instead of going in the front door, now we routed their service down the street and around the corner and came in the back door and provided service that way," he said.

In addition, AT&T officials said the company brought in tractor-trailers containing several million dollars worth of equipment needed to restore service to business customers that didn't have to relocate their offices.

For other customers, those who moved their offices to such areas as Staten Island, Queens or other parts of New York and New Jersey, Johnson said AT&T had to re-engineer and remap circuits so their voice and data services and would be available in the new locations.

"It wasn't just one or two lines, but thousands of them," he said. "We had people working around the clock since last Thursday night. And every thing worked well. We're very pleased."

Officials didn't say how much of the repair work has been completed or how long it will be before all services are restored.

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