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The Letter – What a Difference a Day Makes

Posted: 11/2001

The Letter

What a Difference a Day Makes

As
you read this issue, it is a month and a half from the fateful Sept. 11 attacks
on America. As we prepare it, it is only a week and a half.

We debated about whether there would be a disconnect to tie this
issue to the events of one day that in our "Internet time" might seem
"old news." This certainly would be the case for most events, but the
effects of this treachery surely will linger long after its victims — our
countrymen, our friends — are laid to rest.

Indeed, as much as we hope it not to be the case, it is possible
additional assaults may have been visited on us as we prepare for and carry out
our new war on terrorism.

Even if we are spared incremental pain, we must work quickly
toward recovery. For our hearts and minds, this may be a slow process. But for
our business, our livelihoods, we must hasten to mend. Fortunately, we can find
purpose and distraction in the necessary tasks of rebuilding and securing and
fortifying.

Part of that restoration will fall to the nation’s
communications infrastructure. Our industry will be relied on not only to repair
the damaged networks in New York City, but also to bolster all of our networks
against sabotage and to lay down contingencies for speedy recovery.

While there is no substitute for the highways and airways for
transporting goods, the communications networks will prove to be the true nerve
center of our economy. They move money, data, information and ideas. And,
increasingly, they serve as the medium for collaboration via voice, video, text
for contract negotiations, strategic planning, e-learning, pre-production
design, product sourcing and on and on.

Certainly, in the days following the attacks we saw an
incredible increase in conferencing use with providers reporting up-ticks of 25
percent to 50 percent. Demand for cell phone and satellite phones also saw a
much-needed boost.

While communications tools are being viewed as a lifeline for
consumers and businesses at home, they also have the opposite distinction of
being weapons for a foreign enemy who reportedly used e-mail and satellite
phones to secret their diabolic plans. It is ironic that what will pick us up
from this tragedy also had a hand in putting us here.

As a backlash, already a bill is being introduced that gives law
enforcement greater flexibility to eavesdrop on Internet communications. Further
measures seek greater access to CDRs from "anonymous" prepaid
communications services. Many of these measures are likely to meet with
resistance from freedom-loving Americans — though, sadly, fewer than the day
before.

It is a bittersweet moment for the communications industry to be
at center stage of this event. It is our challenge to rise to the occasion.


Khali Henderson
Editor in Chief


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