Data, Phone Systems Cope with Usage Surge

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Cable Internet-service and telephony providers were taxed but not broken by Tuesday's terrorist attack on New York and Washington.

A spokeswoman for cable ISP Excite@Home Corp. said that network was not adversely affected by the surge in traffic following Tuesday morning's attacks. She noted that overall usage was in fact reduced, except for customers accessing news content sites. No information was available immediately about traffic on Excite@Home's electronic-mail services.

While wireless and wireline telephone networks also reported strain from call volume following the attacks, AT&T Broadband said that none of its cable telephony networks — which serve more than 848,000 subscribers — suffered from the effects of a traffic spike.

Cablevision Systems Corp. issued a statement noting that its telephony, data and video network, which serves suburban Long Island, is operating with "no significant interruptions in service. The company awaits direction from New York and federal authorities for guidance on the operation of its Manhattan properties, including Madison Square Garden, The Wiz electronics stores and Clearview Cinemas."

An AT&T Broadband spokeswoman said the company routinely does not comment on specific ongoing investigations, but had cooperated fully in the past when law enforcement authorities sought its help with surveillance of traffic on its networks.

"At this time we at AT&T Broadband and AT&T, in fact, overall stand ready and willing to do whatever is necessary to help," she said.

America Online and EarthLink Inc., the nation's two largest Internet-service providers, also said they are cooperating with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

One broadband content provider that was affected but did not buckle from the attacks was The Feedroom, a Web site that provides news video from cable and broadcast sources around the country. The company is headquartered atop the Holland Tunnel, with a vista of the World Trade Center towers.

"Our staff saw and heard the first impact, then the second, then the collapses," said Jon Klein, Feedroom's president and CEO. "Being news people, we immediately rolled a video camera after the first plane hit, and posted that clip within minutes of the first impact."

Feedroom staff was ordered to evacuate the building at 11 a.m. Eastern, although Klein and four others remained for three more hours to ensure that local NBC affiliate WNBC's live coverage was streaming both to Feedroom's site and the 26 local Feedroom sites the company runs for NBC around the country.

"We've had about a quarter million visitors in the past day [about three weeks' worth in one day], serving more than one thousand video clips on demand per minute, and about a thousand more live viewings per minute as well," Klein said Wednesday.

By Thursday morning, the usage number had jumped above 9,000 per minute, he later said.

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