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ISPs weather storm

Despite the massive storm in Northern California, Pacific Bell says Internet service on its phone lines remained up and running.

Despite the massive storm that has caused flooding and power outages throughout Northern California, Pacific Bell said Internet service on its phone lines remained up and running.

Although some Bay Area Internet services providers reported problems with Pac Bell lines, Pacific Bell has managed to keep all but one of its call-switching offices in full operation throughout the record rainfall, spokesman David Miller said. A Napa facility that routes calls was closed because of flood threats, he said.

The company set up an Emergency Operations Center in Sacramento yesterday to help keep its 8.5 million phone lines working. In addition, Pac Bell said it has staff working up to 12-hour shifts to respond to weather-related problems.

But the danger isn't over yet. Rising waters continued to creep underground, threatening saturation that could impair phone lines and disrupt service for many Bay Area residents who use the Net at home and at work.

Damaged lines may be the reason that some ISPs, such as Best Internet, have rerouted customers in highly flooded areas to bypass affected lines. As of 11:15 a.m., Best Internet's status hotline was referring customers who use a dial-up number in San Jose, California, to an alternative number.

"Customers may be experiencing some trouble going through Pac Bell," Best spokeswoman Christina Kish said. "We've given those people an alternative number. We've referred the number to less than 200 people."

Miller said he had not heard about the difficulty at Best and was going to investigate the matter. Such problems are common during storms, he said.

"In 1995, water intrusion into cables was a big problem. It causes static, crossed lines, and dropped calls," Miller said.

Berkeley resident Stephanie Wright was hit hard by the storm, which knocked out her Net access Monday. It was a twin blow for Wright, who works out of her home as a technical support representative for Idiom, a local ISP.

"Luckily, I was able to use one of my phone lines, but my main tech support line was out for a day," she said.

Like the flooding, trouble for service providers was spotty throughout the Bay Area. Sirius Connections in San Francisco, A-Link in Sunnyvale, and Cruzio in Santa Cruz all reported no problems.