Long-distance service in New England was interrupted last night by an apparent hardware problem at an American Telephone & Telegraph Co. switching site in Massachusetts, reducing AT&T's network capacity in the affected area by about 60 percent.
Herb Linnen, an AT&T spokesman in Washington, said the company first became aware of the trouble about 8 p.m. The problem was traced to a switching facility in Blackstone, Mass., where technicians continued to work last night.
The Associated Press reported that the breakdown affected communication between some aircraft and ground personnel at area airports.
Last night's network failure represented the fourth widespread breakdown experienced by AT&T in the past 19 months.