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Network Failure Knocks Out Cell Phones, Communication At Logan Air Traffic Centers

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Logan International Airport. (Photo credit: C.J. GUNTHER/AFP/Getty Images)

Logan International Airport. (Photo credit: C.J. GUNTHER/AFP/Getty Images)

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BOSTON (CBS) – A network failure is believed to be responsible for knocking out communication between two FAA satellite centers in the northeast for about two hours on Wednesday and forcing air traffic controllers to switch to back-up systems.

FAA spokesperson Jim Peters said the failure, initially believed to have been caused by a broken or severed cable, caused a disruption of some lines the FAA uses to communicate between the Boston TRACON center in Merrimack, NH and the Boston Center in Nashua.

TRACON is responsible for arriving flights in Boston and Boston Center handles high-altitude flights.

The FAA said the issue did not affect communication with pilots and that air traffic control systems switched to back-up radio frequencies without any interruption.

Massport spokesperson Phil Orlandella told WBZ NewsRadio 1030 that the back-up system, which is slower than the main system, did not cause any problems at Logan.

The issue also affected cell phone service in the area for a time.

Sprint confirmed that a small percentage of their customers were knocked off-line for a short time, but were back up and running.

AT&T confirmed that the outage affected their customers as well. They told WBZ-TV that damage to third party equipment, owned by Sidera, was responsible for the outage.

“Earlier today, some customers in a few cities in the New England market may have experienced issues with wireless service,” an AT&T spokesperson said in a statement. “AT&T worked with a third party access provider to quickly resolve the power-related issue, and our service is currently running normally.”

The Markley Group, a telecom and data center company in downtown Boston said on Wednesday that fiber optic company Sidera was responsible for the problem. A network server reportedly failed around 11:30 a.m.

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