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ATTACK ON THE U.S.

Saturday, Feb. 4, 2006

Web sites, phone networks under strain
By JACK KAPICA
Globe and Mail Update

  UPDATED AT 1:02 PM  EDT

In its toughest test yet, the Internet has come up wanting.

In the wake of what appears to have been terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Arlington, Va., most news Web sites were so swamped it was almost impossible to find details of the events.

Repeated attempts to open home pages at ABC, NBC, CBS, MSNBC, Yahoo News FoxNews.com and other large U.S. media outlets proved fruitless.

When CNN.com finally appeared, the page had been stripped of all advertising and extraneous links to make the site download faster. All that remained was just the headline America Under Attack with five sub-headlines and one link to one story.

globeandmail.com also stripped its Web site down to a minimum to concentrate on the story.

"We expect traffic demands to site to be enormous, but right now tabulating audience isn't a priority," MSNBC spokesman Ben Billingsley told CNet.com. "We're dedicating all of our resources to covering this story thoroughly and accurately."

The CBC also stripped its Web pages down, but in addition to another story on the collapse of money markets following the attack, it also dedicated space to the possible return of Michael Jordan to the NBA and the launch of a retrospective of Canadian films at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Following the CBC's link to the main story on the attacks proved fruitless. Attempts to reach CTV News were similarly unsuccessful.

It was impossible to determine whether any of the main news organizations had servers in the area affected in lower Manhattan.

Oddly, the easiest sites to read the news were high-tech Web sites. CNET.com and ZDNet.com both carried some news stories, though they were not as complete as would be expected and were not updated frequently.

USAToday.com, however, offered the story at the top of the page along with a full page other news stories.

The U.S. national phone networks were clogged with calls but mostly still operating. Wireless networks also experienced heavy traffic.

"We're experiencing double call volume of a normal busy day, which is generating network congestion. The network is fine; there's just too many calls," AT&T Corp. spokesman Dave Johnson told Reuters. "There's absolutely no damage to AT&T's local and long-distance networks."

But it was difficult to telephone people living and working within the area of downtown Manhattan. Callers were greeted either with total silence on the line or with a busy-circuit signal.

Reuters reported that people whose telephones were working were using e-mail to let friends and family know they were all right.

Some news lists were being used by members to bring updates not available on the news.

"The streets are filled with people briskly walking away from downtown, trying to get their cellphones to work," wrote Andy Carvin of the Benton Foundation in Washington, near the Pentagon, in a note posted to a group dedicated to on-line news issues.

"It's not a panic situation by any means — just lots of people determined to get the hell out of there. Some people are clearly shaken, and are being comforted by friends and strangers alike. The streets are completely jammed with cars as people try to get out of the city. Since lots of us at our office usually take the metro to work (which has been shut down, along with all other commuter trains), those of us who lived within walking distance offered to bring home other people who would be stranded downtown."

With a report from Reuters





 PHOTOS

Life Goes On
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SPECIAL
Voices From After the Fall, The Facts Behind the Fear, and the preview of a new Discovery documentary filmed at Ground Zero.


VIDEO






space THE LATEST:
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  • Six-month Memorial for Sept. 11 - U.S. President George Bush speaks from the White House. "The terrorists will remember Sept. 11 as the day their reckoning began," he said.

  • In Canada - Relatives of Canadian victims of the World Trade Centre attacks wonder why there's no six-month memorial here at home.

    CTVNEWS.com video reports



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