Pacific Bell data network outage disconnects Internet lines, ATMs

The Associated Press
Saturday May 26, 2001

SAN FRANCISCO — A data network failure knocked out automatic teller machines, cut high-speed Internet lines and disabled some features of 911 service in California on Friday. 

The cause of the outage involving about 22,000 of Pacific Bell’s frame relay circuits was not immediately known, spokesman John Britton said. It was first reported at 8:05 a.m. and 6,000 circuits were restored by early afternoon. All customers should have service by Friday evening, he said. 

Britton said it was unclear how many customers or businesses were affected, and he did not immediately know the percentage of the network’s total circuits that went down. 

“This was significant. Obviously, when you have 22,000 circuits affected, it was significant,” he said. 

Pacific Bell’s telephone service, which relies on a separate voice network, was not affected. Callers to 911 could still reach dispatchers, but information about their location was not automatically posted as is usually the case. 

Some customers of Pacific Bell’s high-speed Digital Subscriber Line service reported they could not connect to the Internet on Friday. Beyond that, only minor problems were immediately reported. 

“They were affected briefly by a connectivity problem but it was not even a measurable fraction of a percent of our ATMs statewide,” said Harvey Radin, spokesman for Bank of America, which has more than 4,000 ATMs in California. The interruption came at midmorning, and Radin was unsure if it was related to the network outage. 

Wells Fargo reported nothing unusual. 

“At any given time 5 percent of ATMs companywide are out of service,” said Ravi Poorsina, spokeswoman for Wells Fargo, which has 2,700 machines in California alone. “We’re not seeing any problem that’s out of the ordinary.” 

Frame relay networks are used by the communications companies to transport data at high speeds. Banks, stores and Internet providers lease circuits linking their businesses to the networks. 

The outage was limited to Pacific Bell’s territory, which covers about 78 percent of California. 

Pacific Bell will investigate the cause of the outage as soon as service is restored, Britton said. 

“We will be exploring what happened,” he said. “At this time, all our resources are focused on getting everybody back into service as quickly as possible.” 

On the Net: 

Pacific Bell: http://www.pacbell.com