Communications system provided heroic service, panel says

Communications system provided heroic service, panel says

There were two sets of heroes after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, a panel at a Homeland Security Conference said yesterday.

The obvious heroes were the firefighters, police officers and other rescue workers who charged into the World Trade Center and Pentagon to save lives, said moderator Shirley Menish, a consultant. But another group worked behind the scenes helping to save critical telecommunication infrastructures, she said. And major telecom companies came through to repair the many severed cable lines, power failures and flooded phone lines, Menish said at the conference, sponsored by the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association.

Brenton Greene, deputy manager of the Defense Information Systems Agency's National Communications System, agreed with Menish. He said NCS quickly organized telecom companies, and in no time crews were fixing the communications backbone damaged in the attacks.

'AT&T traffic had over 100 million more calls than they had ever seen in a given day,' Greene said. 'Verizon Wireless experienced a 50- to 100-percent increase. It was the most significant challenge that NCS had ever seen.'

In 1963, NCS was formed to provide a national security telecom infrastructure to respond to emergencies. It is made up of members from 23 federal organizations as well as telecom companies.

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