Telephone outage: When high-tech grinds to a halt |

Telephone outage: When high-tech grinds to a halt

We all know that our lives these days are tied to technology, but just how dependent we are on things far beyond our control doesn’t hit home until something happens.

Take Monday for example. Authorities believe thieves cut a fiberoptic cable near Placerville in order to steal the copper wire inside. That act essentially crippled communications and commerce from South and North Lake Tahoe to Truckee. By noon Tuesday, AT&T reported more than 400,000 phone calls were lost.

No Internet, no cell phone service, no credit card or ATM transactions, no fax machines – nothing. For a good portion of the region, things ground to a halt.

The Sierra Sun staff was scattered throughout Truckee and the North Shore using wi-fi networks and dial-up service that didn’t crash. The paper had to be produced in Carson City.

But that was a mere inconvenience compared to other people. In South Lake Tahoe the outage wreaked havoc on the 911 system. Computing the lost time and money in business and credit card transactions, sales and employee down time, the outage could wind up costing South Lake Tahoe businesses hundreds of thousands of dollars, Duane Wallace, executive director of the South Lake Tahoe Chamber of Commerce, told the Tahoe Daily Tribune.

All that so some crooks could make a few bucks from copper wire worth $1.10 a pound.

– From the Truckee Sierra Sun

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