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Cut fiber line knocks out state courts' communications

Posted April 14, 2009

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— Phone and data systems in courthouses and county offices in North Carolina's 100 counties were knocked out Tuesday after a contractor cut a fiber-optic cable.

The state Administrative Office of the Courts reported intermittent service interruptions affecting the mainframe and server-based applications for the state court system.

In Raleigh, the Wake County Courthouse was brought to a standstill for at least six hours, forcing judges to continue hearings.

Magistrate Steven Tibbetts said the outages also affected decisions in his office on how to set appropriate bond.

"It has pretty much immobilized us," he said Tuesday morning. "We're unable to determine outstanding warrants. We're unable to determine prior history. Without that information, we're kind of flying blind."

Employees had to communicate with each other through their personal cell phones.

By 1:30 p.m., AT&T had repaired the network, restoring service at the Wake courthouse, as well as the 101 offices throughout the state, AOC spokeswoman Sharon Gladwell said. Approximately 6,600 employees were affected.

Gladwell said she did not yet have estimates about how much the outage cost the state in lost productivity and wages.

Numerous county telephone systems and cell phones also were affected, officials said.

Gladwell said this was the second network outage with AT&T.

The court system experienced a similar one for two hours in February due to an AT&T network hardware failure.


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  • james27613 Apr 15, 2009

    Hi, we don't call them mainframes anymore.

    Business Enterprise Servers (aka mainframe)
    while not the type of computer of the past that would
    fill an entire school gym, these state of the art
    systems power your airline reseverations, banking systems,
    you name it.

    When you have mega millions of lines of good code,
    (post y2k) you don't toss it away for some wanna be server
    made in china.

    Fact is you use your existing systems to provide the data to your web based applications, otherwise you spend mega money and time for the same stuff on a microsoft or Linux platform.

    Another big benefit of BES aka Mainframe, they don't get any virus from the web. very very secure just like is should be, the operating systems are based on clean code fine tuned since the 1960's !

    The mini computers of the 1970 era and beyond such as DEC (digital equipment corp), Data General, etc are all gone but the mainframe class machines are in full strength, just in a smaller package !

  • nosmo_king58 Apr 14, 2009

    One question not asked is why the fiber was not deployed in a ring configuration. Collapsible rings have been around for years. If a fiber is cut, traffic simply reverses direction and gets to the destination in the opposite direction. It happens quickly enough, there is no loss in service.

  • smitty Apr 14, 2009

    Who the heck still uses a mainframe? Sounds like the county needs to upgrade, and keep a disaster recovery server somewhere else on the network so one cable cut only affects one building.

  • mondo Apr 14, 2009

    green colar technology would avoid these types of issues.

  • afairlane500 Apr 14, 2009

    That is one expensive mistake, something like a $25,000 fine per hour until its fixed.

  • smitty Apr 14, 2009

    The cable was cut by road construction crews.

  • dshell99 Apr 14, 2009

    THIS time it was a cut cable. a couple of months ago there was a hard/software glitch. i think both were human error things. only this time, with ATT and their unionized workers reworking the union's contract, things are looking mighty fishy. i'll NEVER understand why ppl have to mess around during contract reworks, to "prove" that business is better when the workers get what they want. don't they realize that with THIS economy, there is ALWAYS SOMEONE ELSE willing to do the work? and for lesser pay/benefits? messing with someone else's livelihood b/c no one is kissing your behind about your's is just stupid. if you don't like the contract, STRIKE! but don't take us down with you.

  • SingleLensReflex.SLR Apr 14, 2009

    so was it a CUT FIBER LINE or a Hardware Glitch?
    who what when where and why, people. Why did it happen?

  • ContinuityMan Apr 14, 2009

    It's more like "Nothing like explaining to some cranky, newspaper-opinion-page-writing tightwad taxpayer why one fiber line is not enough for the court system"

    ContinuityMan, Department of Redundancy Department

  • dcatz Apr 14, 2009

    Coincidentally, AT&T and the unions representing their "workers" are in a dispute and the contract expired recently.

    This happened in San Francisco as well; disgruntled union workers cut all of the fiber optic lines. Every time the CWA doesn't get their way, stuff mysteriously "breaks".