Web sites, phone networks under strain
By JACK KAPICA
Globe and Mail Update
UPDATED AT 1:02 PM
In its toughest test yet, the Internet has come up
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
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
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
It was impossible to determine whether any of the main news
organizations had servers in the area affected in lower
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
"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
Reuters reported that people whose telephones were working
were using e-mail to let friends and family know they were all
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
"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