As of late last week, local and federal investigators were proceeding with their probe into a burglary at a Midtown Manhattan telecommunications office involving the theft of several DS-3 cards that left a handful of corporate customers without Internet service for a full business day.
Although the crime appears minor, it has raised major questions about the security of the nations critical infrastructure, as well as the curious relationships among competing service providers that share space in hundreds of similar facilities across the country.
According to the New York City Police Department, three DS-3 networking cards were stolen May 2 from a New York CO (central office) of Verizon Communications Inc. This CO, also a co-location office housing competing carriers equipment, is one of the many hubs for the countrys voice and data networks and a key component of the nations critical infrastructure.
As such, the burglary automatically brought in FBI terrorism investigators. The ensuing investigation has been shrouded in secrecy. As of late last week, no arrests had been made, and the investigation is continuing, officials said.
"Everybodys overly sensitive, with reason, to the issues of terrorism or terrorists trying to sabotage the infrastructure, whether it be the Brooklyn Bridge or the Internet," Joseph Valiquette, spokesperson for the New York FBI Field Office, said about the involvement of the FBIs Joint Terrorism Task Force in the Verizon burglary.
The online operations for several New York-based businesses were shut down for almost an entire business day as a result of the Verizon theft. Ziff Davis Media Inc., publisher of eWEEK and a customer of Sprint Corp., which lost several DS-3 cards, lost all e-mail and Internet access. Yeshiva University, a customer of Qwest Communications International Inc., also a victim of the theft, lost Internet access across its Manhattan campuses.
But some COs, such as the Verizon Manhattan office, are also at the heart of an ongoing regulatory battle regarding co-location, which began as an attempt to bring competition to local telephone markets. As such, COs are the facilities where RBOC (Regional Bell Operating Company) rivals are entitled to lease space and interconnect their own equipment.