San Francisco's Bay Area has been the target for more than 12 fiber-optic cable cuts in a year that have resulted in service disruption and impacted emergency phone calls. Some of these cuts have occurred repeatedly at the same location and the way they have occurred, often in the same night in areas of the East Bay and around San Jose, Calif., has authorities believing that the attacks were intentional, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Although the motives for the attacks are not clear, they do show how easy it is to disrupt services and how hard it is for telecom companies to quickly repair the cuts -- a truck roll is necessary to repair the damaged line. However, most companies are able to reroute Internet traffic to other areas so that the disruption of service is reduced.
But companies are uncertain how to prevent more attacks from occurring. The cables are marked to prevent accidental damage, making them easily recognizable to potential attackers. And the cables are widespread and often in out-of-the-way areas, making them easy targets for attackers.
The FCC does require telecom companies to report outages that impact users or disrupt 911 services. Each year telecom carriers report thousands of outages, mostly accidental. Intentional cuts like those that are occurring in the San Francisco area are still relatively obscure. According to the FCC data, as reported by the WSJ, in the first nine months of 2014 there were only 39 incidents of malicious attacks nationwide.
The most recent fiber cuts in the San Francisco area occurred in late June and impacted Level 3 and Zayo's fiber backbone networks. The FBI is investigating that incident.
However, vandalism against fiber networks isn't just relegated to Northern California. CenturyLink (NYSE: CTL) reported in February that customers in north Phoenix and northern Arizona saw service disruptions due to a "deliberately cut" fiber line in the New River area.
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)
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