A 40 year old building with much of the original mechanical and electrical infrastructure. A 40 year old 4000 amp, 480 volt aluminum electrical buss duct, which had been modified and "tapped" often during its life, with much of the work done violating equipment specifications.
With the old materials such as buss insulation gradually deteriorating, the duct expanding and contracting over the years, the fact aluminum was used during the initial installation to either save money or test a new technology vision - it all becomes a risk. A risk of buss failure, or at worst a buss failing to the point it results in a massive electrical explosion.
Sound extreme? Now add a couple of additional factors. The building is a mixed use-telecom carrier hotel, with additional space used for commercial collocation and standard commercial office space. This narrows it down to most of the carrier hotel facilities in the US and Europe. Old buildings, converted to mixed-use carrier hotel and collocation facilities, due mainly to an abundance of vacant space during the mid-1990s, and a need for telecom interconnection space following the Telecommunications Act of 1996.
An employee enters the meet-me-room at a major carrier hotel in Los Angeles, New York, or Miami. He is a young guy recently graduated from high school, hired to do cable removal for circuit disconnects at minimum wage. Although young, he has a wife and child, and has recently been fighting with in-laws over his ability to support a family. Frustration and anger overcome his emotions, and he turns to the ladder rack jammed with cable and starts hammering at the cables for all he is worth.
Network operations centers around the world see circuits dropping, and customers with critical financial, military, Internet, and broadcast news services are shut down. In the space of about one minute our young employee has taken down several thousand individual circuits, creating near chaos in the global telecommunications community.
In their report on Trusted Access to Communications Infrastructure, the NSTAC Vulnerabilities Task Force advises ""it is important to recognize that any one individual with malicious intent accessing any critical telecommunications facility could represent a threat. The threat of insiders performing malicious acts also transcends each type of site discussed in this document."
February 1996. A half-ton bomb planted in a small truck near South Quay Station close to the recently renovated commercial district of Canary Wharf. The bomb detonated around 1900 hours, bringing down a six story building, and severely shaking Canary Wharf Tower and other buildings around the Docklands area. The area, home to much of the telecommunications interconnection capacity connecting the UK and Europe to the rest of the world, is severely damaged and all surrounding activity disrupted.
Today the Docklands area continues to support many important, high density communications interconnection points, including Telehouse Europe, the London Internet Exchange (LINX), and the London Network Access Point (LONAP) - in addition to individual nodes and facilities operated by European and other international telecommunications carriers.
This includes companies operating submarine fiber optic cable systems. These densely interconnected areas are referred to as telecommunications "SuperNodes," or if the facilities are located at individual facilities, "Carrier hotels."