In Business This Week
THE CHAOS WROUGHT BY ONE CUT CABLE
All it took was a confused AT&T worker with a pair of wire-cutters to cripple New York City's communications with the outside world. On Jan. 4, the accidental severing of a thumb-thick cable in Newark, N. J., knocked out more than 100,000 two-way circuits in and out of Manhattan. The outage snarled traffic at airports up and down the East Coast and temporarily shut New York commodities exchanges.
Angry customers were informed that, in the absence of outright negligence, AT&T isn't liable for financial losses resulting from the cable cut. The Federal Communications Commission insulates common carriers from such claims. But that's not all bad: Successful claims by big companies would force up phone rates for residential and small-business customers.EDITED BY HARRIS COLLINGWOOD