RealTime IT News

ISPs, Carriers To The Rescue

One thing readily apparent since Tuesday's events at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon is the heroic efforts made by people willing to lend a helping hand.

Internet service providers (ISPs), Web hosting companies, the Bells and other tech firms have done no less than others at home or abroad to aid the many people left suddenly bereft. Companies that are usually rivals are coming together without thought of personal self-promotion to help out any in need.

Joseph Skoler of Compuhelp Internet, a technology and dial-up and digital subscriber line (DSL) provider located only three blocks from the WTC, knows how lucky he is that his business is still around today.

"It was pretty scary, being so close, knowing people who work in and around the buildings, and having been in and around them a thousand times," Skoler said. "We have been unaffected, except that our offices are in the (Triangle Below Canal, or TriBeCa) which was completely shut down by the city, so we're running on a skeleton crew."

Skoler said the local POP server his ISP uses is collocated at the Telehouse International colo facility located on 25 Broadway. It's been running on diesel generators since Tuesday, so fuel replenishment has been a problem, although a story yesterday by another ISP-Planet staff member shows it is being addressed.

As of press time, Telehouse has been out of commission due to an overworked diesel generator. It's uncertain when service to the facility will be re-established since phone calls to the New York office are next to impossible and the difficulty in finding and getting a replacement generator to the building.

Other businesses in New York City weren't as "lucky" as Compuhelp.

Verizon Communications, the incumbent local exchange carrier (ILEC) serving the New York City area, was hit hard by Tuesday's events. With 19 central offices (CO) in Manhattan, five of them south of 14th Street, serving roughly three million data circuits, millions of people were suddenly without phone services or Internet connections.

Exacerbating the situation are the many relatives calling into the city to find out about loved ones, a situation that Verizon officials say is straining the company's voice network almost to the breaking point.

The telco, normally lambasted by customers and critic alike, is drawing praise for the efforts it has taken thus far to get phone services established. According to reports, the 140 West Street CO is almost completely ruined; in addition to the damage it took from the collapse of the towers, its basement was flooded with the water used by firefighters to control the blaze.

Jim Smits, Verizon spokesperson, said that right now technicians are still in the process of assessing the extent of the damage.

"Going into Day three, we're still assessing what needs to be done," Smits said. "We're working side by side with city officials and other carriers to reroute traffic around the affected switches to get services running again."

In addition to providing collocation and switching services for ISPs, the CO at 140th West Street is the main link to the voice and data network for the New York Stock Exchange, which is expected to open its doors Monday.

According to nycdave, a Verizon employee posting on consumer DSL Web site DSLReports.com, the clean up and repair of the routers and switches for the stock exchange is its first priority.

"ISPs are obviously high on the priority list, but we first must think about restoring the physical plan and saving any additional people trapped under the rubble," he said.

Lending a Helping Hand
To the rescue are communications companies around the U.S. who are donating their time and resources to help out the businesses affected by the network collapses.

Oriya Pollak, chief technology officer for INYC Corp., a New York City ISP, said INYC is providing free Web hosting and email services for at least the next 90 days to any company affected by the network outages, and has reserved enough Web space to host 2,000 Web sites to do so.

"As an ISP located in New York City and being New Yorkers, we were all extremely hurt and shocked at what happened in our city, our country," Pollak said. "We have received many phone calls and requests from partner companies that are in need of email and other essentials to minimize loss of business. That made me realize that we could help, our heart went out to them as businesses got shut down. The Internet is all about working together, and what a better time then now."

He also sent out a plea to other ISPs with posts to various ISP-Lists. The response was huge, with an initial outpouring from Web hosts and ISPs everywhere. A Web site was set up recently to conglomerate all the different ISPs providing their services.

Hail From the Chief
The outpouring of help and goodwill was enough to warrant a response from Michael Powell, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, who took time to speak about the tragedy at a meeting Wednesday.

"I would like to take this opportunity to extend our deepest gratitude to the many communications entities both in New York and here in Washington, D.C. for their heroic efforts in ensuring the world's premier communications network has continued to be available in this time of tragedy," Powell said. "In particular, the efforts of Verizon have been nothing short of outstanding, as have been the disaster relief efforts of AT&T and the countless other communications entities. I cannot express enough our pride in thesee efforts at a time when many of our regulates have lost members of their internal families."