Comcast Experiences Poorly Timed Holiday Internet Outage

By Tracey E. Schelmetic November 29, 2010

If you're a Comcast customer on the East Coast who decided to sit down and do a little online holiday shopping last night, you were probably out of luck. Beginning at 8 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 28, Comcast customers up and down the right coast found themselves without Internet connectivity. Micro-blogging site Twitter was awash with indignant Comcast customers complaining about their outages.

Comcast, which initially reported that it had no idea what caused the outage, is now attributing it to “server problems.” Affected states included Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Maryland, Virginia, New Hampshire and Washington, D.C. Interestingly enough, the outages appeared to affect only high-speed cable Internet service, and did not knock out the company's digital TV and VoIP telephone offerings.

“All other services are working properly,” a Comcast spokesperson told NBC News. “We certainly apologize for any inconvenience this may be causing our customers,” said the spokesperson.

Confirming that Twitter has become the “go-to” place for news about outages (a flurry of Tweets about outages on Facebook, Netflix or other popular Web services usually show up on the site within seconds after the outages hit), Comcast itself showed up on Twitter as a way of updating customers on the status of the outage and planned fixes. Comcast customer service rep Bill Gerth, who tweets under the name ComcastWill, reported that repairs were underway late Sunday, according to Information Week.

“It appears our engineers are finalizing the correction,” Tweeted Gerth at about 9 on Sunday night. “I appreciate everyone's patience during this unexpected outage.” During the course of the evening, Gerth posted a comment that gave affected users some hints of the scale of the outage. “Internet outage larger than just Boston, we should have a resolution shortly,” Gerth tweeted.

Service appeared to have been restored to most areas at about midnight. Comcast has indicated it is investigating the problem so that “it doesn't happen again,” wrote Jeff Alexander, a company spokesman, in an e-mail to the Washington Post.

Tracey Schelmetic is a contributing editor for TechZone360. To read more of Tracey's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Tammy Wolf

TechZone360 Contributor

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