Things went from bad to really bad for Sprint (NYSE: S) yesterday when two severed cables—between Chicago and Milwaukee and Tacoma, Wash. and Portland, Ore.—caused several hours' worth of network problems and disruptions throughout the Pacific Northwest.
It was, Sprint explained, a double whammy. Traffic from a break in a single cable can typically be rerouted to other parts of the system. Two breaks—even ones that are 2,000 miles apart as these were—can make rerouting a little more problematic.
The breaks happened first on a fiber route between Chicago and Milwaukee as part of an "apparent construction-related accident Sunday night or early Monday morning," Sprint spokeswoman Crystal Davis told TotalTelecom. The second break happened when an aerial cable between Tacoma and Portland was cut for some as-yet-unexplained reason.
The breaks caused problems for several hours for Sprint customers in Washington, Oregon and Northern California, including, prominently, Alaska Airlines where disrupted ticketing and check-in systems created delays and cancellations and forced the airline to manually process passengers at "key hubs," according to a CNN report.
The report said that 70 mainline and regional flights and 6,000 passengers were canceled and that the airline was still experiencing "residual delays" as employees worked to restore things to normal.
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