San Jose Phone Line Sabotage

Yesterday, our internet was down for most of the day. Peter called Comcast, who could only tell him it was a bad regional outage, but it was being worked on. I’ve been in a chicken-little-the-sky-is-falling mood lately, so I sardonically surmised it was the Chinese testing the gear they’d recently installed into our electrical system. Peter more realistically guessed it was rain-related, because it was raining, and rain seems to always cause infrastructure problems in California.

His guess sounded more plausible, but for once, I was right: it was an attack, though it wasn’t related to the previous day’s gloomy news. Apparently, an unknown someone had cut the underground telephone wires. This was no casual accident, or goofball prank. Whoever it was knew exactly where the telephone wires were, and cut them as well as the redundant lines (in another location about 1/2 mile away); knew how to open the heavy manhole cover, which may have required special tools; and knew exactly which set of wires to saw apart. We knew it happened at positions on either side of Monterey Highway: in fact, I was driving right past one of the points when I was taking Kelly to art class and wondered why two police cars and a van were parked on the side of the overpass. Some reports also said the same scenario happened in San Carlos, but we only know south San Jose (through Morgan Hill and parts of Santa Cruz County) were completely down.

With the phone lines down, not only analog phones lines were affected, but so was internet (making Skype unusable). Also affected were ATMs, which could be a pain if you needed to get money from your account while the bank was closed. It reminded me of the old crime stories were a home invader would cut the phone lines to a house before breaking in, so the victim(s) would be unable to call for help. If you knew enough to bring down analog phones and internet regionally, and simultaneously cut electricity (which is presumably easier to do, since winter storms do this regularly) to that area, and you wanted to do mischief, you’d be shooting fish in a barrel.

I know the police, Santa Clara County, and AT&T (which laid and maintains the sabotaged lines) are even more concerned and on the case than I am–and AT&T has a $250,000 reward out for any information leading to finding the culprits. But it doesn’t make this chicken little feel any better.

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