Rats partly to blame for crash of New Zealand communications system

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) - Rats gnawing through fiber-optic cable contributed to a catastrophic crash of telecommunications systems across New Zealand's North Island this week, Telecom Corp. said. 

The rats attacked a cable in a steel duct on a bridge north of the capital Wellington, playing a key role in an outage that shut down the nation's stock exchange and crippled telephone, mobile, Internet and electronic banking services to about 100,000 customers for more than four hours Monday, Steve Fuller, the company's general manager of network delivery told The New Zealand Herald. 

Telecom buries its cables up to 1.5 meters (five feet) below ground. Where they have to cross bridges, the cables are covered with steel pipe. 

"We employ the world's best practices in the technique of installing the cable,'' Fuller said.  

"Rodents being rodents, they gnaw at those entry points, they burrow underground, they find a way in.'' 

The tough-toothed rodents didn't act alone. At almost the same time a post hole digger broke another Telecom cable on North Island, contributing to the outage. - AP 

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