Comcast has interrupted their Internet, video, and voice services due to a cut fiber-optic line at one of their network partners. As the nation’s second-largest U.S. pay-TV provider, serving over 29 million total customers around the nation, this event has far-reaching effects. This, of course, is bad news for Xfinity customers who as of right now are still in the dark about when their service will be restored.
Comcast issued a statement on the matter:
“One of Comcast’s large backbone network partners had a fiber-optic line cut that we believe is also impacting other providers. It is currently affecting our business and residential internet, video and voice customers. We apologize and are working to get services restored as soon as possible.”
A tweet from Newsday reporter Joan Gralla states that the disruption happened on a line between New York and Chicago and another between Ashburn and South Carolina. According to users on Twitter, even the 1-800-COMCAST customer service line is not working. When you call, a message says that the number is not in service.
This is a big story for obvious reasons. A lot of people are affected by this outage. But, it also raises a question that could have important consequences for the future of fiber Internet: how does someone shut down Internet connection throughout the country and how do we prevent it from happening again?
This isn’t the first time this has happened. In 2016, a fiber-optic cable in Colorado was accidentally cut by construction crews, causing regional outages. Those outages affected dispatch centers. Calls to the nonemergency dispatch number did not make it through, raising the concern of how such an event could have affected emergency calls.
In my opinion, any system that can be taken down by a single cut line has room for improvement. What are the protections in place for such an outage? As fiber-optic technology ushers the nation into a new method of connectivity, these are questions providers must consider. Additionally, some jurisdictions do not require companies to disclose the location of their fiber-optic lines. That’s a recipe for disaster.
Internet users across the country, Comcast customers or not, will be eager to learn more details about this most recent outage.
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