Thursday, April 09, 2009


Was California fiber optic cutting a dry run for terrorist attack?

by Larry Geller

Read this San Francisco Chronicle article, Sabotage attacks knock out phone service (4/9/2009) describing the disruption caused to three California counties when fiber optic cables were cut at four locations.

The sabotage essentially froze operations in parts of the three counties at hospitals, stores, banks and police and fire departments that rely on 911 calls, computerized medical records, ATMs and credit and debit cards.

Hospitals had to cancel surgery because doctors were unreachable. This was really bad. They don’t even know yet how bad.

The perpetrators, according to the article, had to remove manhole covers with special tools and lower themselves into the cableway to cut the thick communications lines.

It’s clear that this could be done again. Easily. And that there’s nothing protecting the cables from further sabotage. It’s impractical to post a policeperson on top of every manhole.

Back home in Honolulu, it isn’t even necessary to pop open manholes to get at phone lines. The California incident involved special knowledge, I’m assuming, because very specific AT&T cables were cut. Someone just playing around at disruption could lift any of the little concrete covers that are used here along gutters where telephone cables are placed under the street. It wouldn’t take special tools or knowledge.

What this article reveals is how vulnerable emergency services and businesses are as communications are concentrated into these high-capacity cable lines. I’m wondering if I should dust off my ARRL Handbook and re-apply for a ham license. It’s going to be back to the middle ages for everyone if we can’t use our phones/faxes/internet/cellphones etc.


Having a Ham License and having a station set up is always a good idea.

Post a Comment

Requiring those Captcha codes at least temporarily, in the hopes that it quells the flood of comment spam I've been receiving.

<< Home


page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Newer›  ‹Older