pete on Sat, 17 Jul 1999 20:12:01 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Toronto Bell infrastructue burns

This morning at 10:32 in the Bell Canada Central Office (CO) there was a
contained electrical short on the third floor. This wasn't a big deal
because they simply lock down the area and suck all of the oxygen out of
the room. 

Unfortunately, the designers of this rediculously cool fire extinguisher
didn't bother to connect this system to the sprinkler. Two explosions
rocked the building as millions of dollars worth of network ATM switches
combusted on the 6th and 9th floor. Unconfirmed reports say that one
engineer was "resqued" while there is a possibility that serveral techs
were killed. 

Any telecommunication service carried over Bell's extensive copper
infrastructure were immediately cut. Phone exchanges were suddenly islands
(someone could call someone in the same exchange could call someone else) 
and while the outages primarily took out 416/905 other parts of Canada
will experience "issues" for at least two days. The cell networks were
likewise effected (only Fido could call other Fidos) and the ATM backbone
servicing our wonderful financial institutions were likewise dead. Many
unhappy consumers. Even radio stations that send their signals through a
(Bell) leased line were planning canned music. Nobable as well is that
E911 emergency services were also down. 

Every copper based ISP in Toronto was down. Companies like UUNet and
PSInet all lease bandwidth and infrastructure from Bell. Cable modem users
would have been unaffected because their net traffic never touches the
Bell infrastructure. 

There is no firm ETA when everything will be "normal". Emergency rerouting
of the PSTN phone traffic (likely through New York!) has taken effect,
however this stopgap solution cannot hope to connect everyone in Toronto
at the same time. At one moment your server could be touching 60% of the
net; the next you could be all alone. 

Billions of dollars in business has not happened. While this will piss the
suits right off, to a geek this is one of the most romantic scenarios
possible - a real life version of the "islands in the net" theme. 

There has never been a loss at such a central point in recent Toronto
history, and be sure that heads will roll as the illusion of redundancy is
shattered. This is a sorry day for Bell, who likely lost this year's
profit before noon. Predictably, Bell media contacts are trying to play
the damage and the service outages down. 

More information becoming available on a moment for moment basis, so this
is to be considered late-breaking as opposed to absolute recount. 


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