Fiber cuts lead to big outages at Comcast, Verizon, and others

Two cuts in high-capacity telecom lines that carry data traffic led to chaos on Friday afternoon for many Americans as Comcast Corp., Verizon Communications, and Spectrum services crashed in the eastern United States. People were left with partial or no television, internet, and voice services.

Comcast said it was switching network providers to restore service and had some success after several hours on late Friday afternoon. But the outage was so bad that even Comcast office phones were down. One cut was of a transmission line between New York and Chicago and the other cut was in the southern United States, according to social media postings and the company.

In a statement, Comcast called the cuts separate and unrelated and apologized to its customers.

Comcast said on Twitter: “One of Comcast’s large backbone providers had a fiber cut that we believe is also impacting other providers.” The company, the nation’s largest cable-TV provider, did not have any more details on the cuts. Sources said cut lines were operated by Level 3, which is now part of CenturyLink.

CenturyLink spokeswoman Francie Dudley said “the CenturyLink network is operating normally.”

The breadth of the outages were reported by customers on the website downdetector.com. Social media postings complaining about the outage were most prevalent among Comcast customers.

Camera icon downdetector.com
Comcast’s reported outage at 1:35 p.m. according to downdetector.com.

Streaming giant Netflix also experienced difficulties.

Many Xfinity customers say that Comcast’s customer service phone lines crashed.

Commenters on downdetector.com ranged from those saying it could have been worse to those who blamed Comcast.

Said Getting Old: “Really could have been much worse, this should remind us all how much we rely on this very delicate system!!!”

Change Me added “go ahead Comcast, use another piece of bubble gum to fix your problem!”

Sandra Buchan saw a glass half full in this heat in her downdector.com post: “Just thinking … Look on the bright side … Thank God it’s just Comcast that’s out — imagine if it was your A/C.”

A Pittsburgh customer added in the early afternoon: “Comcast internet is working on my business PC, but my credit card machines, which connect via IP (comcast) are not working at all. We are also not able to receive any phone calls, but can make outgoing calls. Being that this is a restaurant, this is very bad for us. We’re not receiving any phone orders, and we’re not able to process any credit cards. It’s also in the middle of our lunch rush.”