With workers firing up home computers and fax machines, children Web surfing, and others using the day at home to make long calls, telecommunications systems throughout the region slowed down or didn\'t function at all.
Bell Atlantic reported heavy congestion yesterday as people used phone lines while they tried to work at home rather than risk a treacherous drive to the office.
\"We do have moderate to heavy network congestion in Washington caused by the number of people using the home systems today, including voice and data communications,\" said company spokesman Michel Daley. \"And because people are at home, they are inside calling family and friends.\"
The number of telephone calls yesterday probably was no higher than on a normal business day, Daley said. But the duration of the calls was longer, causing unusual congestion. Bell Atlantic officials won\'t know exactly how much usage grew until they calculate the numbers today.