Twitter Saves the Day During Silicon Valley Outage

$250,000 reward out for vandals who cut lines

Friday, Apr 10, 2009  |  Updated 10:57 AM PDT
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Sabotage in South Bay Forces Cell Phone Outage

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AT&T's Twitter feed also let everyone know that they had partially restored the lines at at about 9 p.m. Thursday.

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Sabotage in South Bay Forces Cell Phone Outage

Authorities are searching for who caused an outage of cell phones across the South Bay on Thursday.
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When much of the Silicon Valley lost communication via cell and traditional phone lines Thursday, many they turned to Twitter as the way to find and spread information.

Janine Popick, CEO of VerticalResponse, told CNET, "All of my real time updates have been coming from the AT&T Twitter feed," when her company lost communication.

Nearly 2,400 people kept tabs on the situation via AT&T's Twitter feed, CNET reported.

Most of the 52,000 landlines, Internet connections and cell phones in the Santa Clara County area were restored Thursday night, after fiber optic lines were allegedly vandalized in San Jose and San Carlos on Thursday morning, county officials said.

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AT&T's Twitter feed also let everyone know that they had partially restored the lines at at about 9 p.m. Thursday.

AT&T is offering a $250,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of whoever is responsible for the  severed lines.

Crews are repairing hundreds of tiny strands in the plastic-sheathed cables that were cut between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. Thursday in San Jose and San Carlos.

The county declared a local emergency because residents could not make 911 calls until about 5 p.m. By 9 p.m., most residents' services were  restored, volunteer for the emergency services center Nick Muyo said, who works for the district attorney's office.

Office of Emergency Services spokeswoman Kirsten Hofmann, who first heard about the outages around 2 a.m., said multiple agencies went door-to-door to check on homebound senior citizens while search and rescue  teams were posted in unincorporated areas in case residents need help.

Hofmann said police and ambulance radios were not affected, and the outage had not hampered any emergency responders as of 5 p.m.

By 9:30 p.m., the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office demobilized crews stationed in key intersections in the South County area, according to  the Office of Emergency Services.

AT&T spokesman John Britton said repair crews expect to complete restoration some time Thursday night, but reports indicate full restoration  might not happen until this morning.

While Britton declined to speculate who might be behind the cut cables, which police are treating as an act of vandalism, he did note that  whoever sawed through the lines seemed to be knowledgeable on the subject.

"Somebody had the proper tool to remove the manhole cover," he said.

When they find the vandals, they'll tweet it out.

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