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Sacramento airport goes no-fly after AT&T internet cable snipped

Sacramento International Airport (SMF) suffered hours of flight delays yesterday after what appears to be an intentional cutting of an AT&T internet cable serving the facility.

The airport notified passengers of an issue with internet connections at both Southwest and Delta airlines facilities at SMF yesterday morning, with the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO) later confirming that an AT&T internet and phone line serving the airport was cut in what appeared to be a “deliberate act.”

SCSO spokesperson Sergeant Amar Gandhi told local news sources that the sheriff’s office, which provides security services for SMF, was notified of an issue at 0130 local time yesterday. Repair crews noticed the deliberate nature of the damage when they arrived on scene.

“It looks like someone who knew what they were doing,” Gandhi told local NBC affiliate KCRA. “So this wasn’t just a couple of teenagers ripping some wires out as a prank. [It] looks very deliberate.”

An SMF spokesperson told The Register that there hasn’t been a suspect identified, and that no additional damage was caused. The airport also isn’t aware of any additional threats at this time.

SMF listed flight delays of over two hours yesterday, while arrivals were also delayed, KCRA said. Service was restored by 1135, the airport said.

The cable damage follows widespread 911 outages in the US yesterday that were also attributed to service line damage, though in that case it appeared to be less intentional. Lumen Technologies, which provides 911 services in the affected states of South Dakota, Nebraska, and Nevada, said that its service was disrupted by a third-party company installing new kit.

That said, 911 outages were also reported in Texas yesterday, but Lumen doesn’t serve that area, we’re told. Local police explained that it was experiencing an issue with service provided by T-Mobile, but we haven’t been able to confirm why.

America’s cops have warned in recent years of extremists targeting power and internet infrastructure, and several incidents have occurred that point to some domestic groups already having taken such actions.

In late 2022, an unknown assailant shot up an electrical substation in North Carolina, knocking out power to 45,000 homes and businesses in the middle of winter. In addition, at least six electrical substations in the Pacific Northwest appear to have been intentionally sabotaged in what authorities believe were targeted attacks.

Last year, a pair of individuals were arrested and charged with cutting more than 2,000 fiber optic cables in Connecticut, stopping internet service to more than 40,000 residential and business customers.

Like the Connecticut sabotage, this latest act is unlikely to go unsolved for long, SCSO said, noting that airports are some of the most heavily monitored areas in the country. Felony vandalism charges are the least the individuals could face, Gandhi told reporters, adding that with the FBI investigating, additional charges could soon be added if a motive is determined. ®