Iraqi gateway repaired after attack

Telecoms services were reconnected less than two weeks after a recent bomb attack on the international gateway carrying voice and data traffic in and out of Iraq, according to the US-based satellite communications provider chosen to implement the platform last year.

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By  Richard Agnew Published  March 28, 2004

Telecoms services were reconnected less than two weeks after a recent bomb attack on the international gateway carrying voice and data traffic in and out of Iraq, according to the US-based satellite communications provider chosen to implement the platform last year. An improvised device hidden in a cooking oil container exploded on the site on March 3, damaging a shelter housing the satellite communications equipment and knocking out lines of communication between Iraq and abroad. Globecomm Systems, which was sub-contracted to implement the gateway in August last year as part of the US government's Iraq Infrastructure Reconstruction Programme, says it succeeded in re-establishing voice communications from the earth station on March 14. "It took us twelve days to get the system back online," says Keith Hall, vice president of network services at Globecomm. "Major efforts to improve security at the site… are ongoing with many new measures having already been seen and felt," he adds. The gateway, which came online in February, provides voice, fax and data services between Baghdad and Globecomm's teleport in New York. According to the provider, the bomb was carried onto the site by two temporary labourers that had been hired to refinish the roof around the satellite antenna. The device exploded in the hands of one of the workers while being placed under the equipment shelter. He was killed instantly, while the second sustained injuries to his leg. A survey of the damage found that the explosion had rendered various items unsalvageable, including the shelter, a voice over IP (VoIP) gateway, two E1 breakout cables, power supplies and engineering tool kits. Another VoIP gateway, two routers, two switches and a workstation were also damaged but were still working after the blast. Globecomm worked with Lucent, which was chosen to repair the fixed network in Baghdad last year, to review the damage using temporary power and communications links, and to bring services back online after re-locating equipment. Stricter security measures have been adopted since the incident, according to Hall. These include a personnel access database and requirements for everyone entering the site to be photographed and their names entered into the register. Globecomm, which offers voice and internet solutions throughout the Middle East, says it is also planning to expand its presence in Iraq in the coming months. "[We are planning] to develop an in-country division and are currently supporting numerous commercial and government efforts in Iraq," says Hall.

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