Four or five underground fiber optic cables in San Jose were cut, causing the outage, and police are investigating the possibility that the cuts were done on purpose, according to The San Jose Mercury News and other Northern California news outlets.
The cut cables were nearly 10 feet underground but were accessible via a manhole cover.
The outage is affecting Verizon's cell and landline phone access and Internet access, with other carriers reporting intermittent service across a wide area of Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties, the Mercury News wrote.
The cables are owned by AT&T, which leased them to Verizon.
The outage started at approximately 2:00 a.m. Pacific Time, Thursday, and service is expected to be restored by 6:00 p.m., Pacific Time.
AT&T is offering a $100,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of those who sabotaged the lines, the Mercury News wrote.
The area is home to many of the nation's top IT and high-tech manufacturers.
Calls to several of those vendors, and to several solution providers in the area, found no instances of disruption to business.
Joy Alexiou, a public information officer with Santa Clara County, said the outage was limited to a relatively small area around south San Jose and in the Morgan Hill and Gilroy areas, and that the only business impact seems to be the early closing of banks in the area.
Alexiou said that about 52,000 households using Verizon's landline service were affected, as were an unknown number of cell phone users. Furthermore, she said ATMs in the area were also shut down.
The biggest concern was the 911 emergency service, which was shut down. In response, fire and police personnel were out in greater numbers than normal to provide help, Alexiou said.
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