Police are hunting for vandals who chopped fiber-optic cables and killed landlines, cell phones and Internet service for tens of thousands of people in Santa Clara, Santa Cruz and San Benito counties on Thursday.
Ten fiber-optic cables carrying were cut at four locations in the predawn darkness.
The first four fiber-optic cables were cut shortly before 1:30 a.m. in an underground vault along Monterey Highway north of Blossom Hill Road in south San Jose, police Sgt. Ronnie Lopez said. The cables belong to AT&T, and most of the service disruption came from this attack.
Four more underground cables, at least two of which belong to AT&T, were cut about two hours later at two locations near each other along Old County Road near Bing Street in San Carlos, authorities said. Two additional lines were sliced on Hayes Avenue in south San Jose.
In each case, the vandals had to pry up heavy manhole covers with a special tool, climb down a shaft and chop through heavy cables. Britton said the four cables cut in San Jose were about the width of a silver dollar and were encased in tough plastic sheath. One cable contained 360 fibers, and the other three had 48 fibers each.
At least 500 total fiber-optic strands were sliced, and each had to be painstakingly spliced back together, requiring hours of work.
A communications blackout for the biggest sneak in California history? Nope.. Looks more like a union dispute:
The vandalism comes as AT&T is in talks with the Communications Workers of America for a contract covering more than 80,000 employees, who have been working under their old deal since it expired at 11:59 p.m. Saturday. Union members voted in late March to authorize a strike but have not scheduled one.