An underground fire disrupts phone/internet services in upstate New York : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

An underground fire disrupts phone services in upstate New York

By BEN DOBBIN, Associated Press Writer

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (AP) -- A fire in an old subway tunnel melted a section of fiber-optic cable, disrupting long-distance, Internet and cellular telephone services for thousands of Frontier Corp. customers in upstate New York.

The fire, apparently started by vagrants early Wednesday, cut off long-distance service for 12 hours for most Frontier customers in and around Rochester. Local telephone and 911 calls, which rely on copper wiring, were unaffected.

Rochester's 9-mile-long subway, which ran underground for just 1 1/2 miles, opened in 1927. Ridership peaked at 5 million in 1947, but the growing popularity of automobiles and the demise of five connecting railroads led to the last passenger run in 1956.

Vagrants trying to keep warm were suspected of starting a wood fire that burned out of control in the disused subway line near the Genesee River, said Frontier spokesman Tor Constantino. The intense heat managed to burn through the fire-retardant tubing that encases the fiber-optic line, and about 150 feet of it had to be replaced.

''A majority of residential and business customers'' of Frontier's long-distance service lost the ability to make outgoing calls, Constantino said, adding that he was unable to estimate how many thousands of customers were affected.

An unspecified number of Internet users also lost their connection -- and Frontier's reach as an Internet provider extends the breadth of upstate New York.

In addition, the outage disrupted cell phone service as far away as Binghamton by knocking out incoming and outgoing calls for people served by Bell Atlantic Mobile.

Frontier, a century-old telephone carrier with a nationwide long-distance network, was bought out last year by Global Crossing Ltd., a Bermuda-based telecommunications upstart. Founded in 1899, it changed its name from Rochester Telephone in 1995.

Frontier sprouted beyond its roots as a local phone monopoly in Rochester -- a metro region of nearly 1 million people -- by buying more than a half-dozen long-distance carriers in the 1990s and becoming one of the nation's top 10 long-distance providers.

-- Carl Jenkins (, February 24, 2000


.... could happened like that I guess .......

-- Squirrel Hunter (nuts@upina.cellrelaytower), February 24, 2000.

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