Cable phone service disrupted from power outage [telecom]

Our area lost power from Hurricane Irene. Those of us with traditional landline Verizon phones (and plain wired phones, not cordless) never lost service. However, our neighbors with cable phone service (Comcast) lost phone service as soon as the power went out. I don't know why.

My cheapo electronic answering machine has battery backup (2 AA cells), and that worked fine for 18 hours. My clock radios have a 9V battery backup but they needed to be reset. (They work okay for brief power outages).

Being without power is not fun, especially at night. I had flashlights, but I need a lantern type light that shows a broad light as opposed to the narrow spotlight of a flashlight.

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The relevant question, of course, is whether the cable system itself lost power, or just the (in the home) converter boxes.

In our own case a few years ago, we had a local power failure. The cable system itself was still live, so thanks to our UPS'es on the (so called) cable modem and router, we still had phone service and internet.

- the power came back before our UPS'es died.

Incidentally, two of the three local cellular companies had their towers (and backbone) functioning thoughout. One of them died after about 30 minutes.

Direct-to-the-CO copper lines were fine for the ILEC and also... for the CLEC. We're in one of the very few areas that has a real CLEC overbuild.

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danny burstein

Similar issue here, don't have Comcast Digital Voice but do have High Speed and TV. Power was out at 3:30am didn't care that point. At about 8:30am powered up the generator and got house up and running. What I did notice was that even though the cable modem was powered it had no high speed connection, nor was there any TV.

About 45 minutes later the power was restored to the neighbors so I switched off the generator to the local grid. At that point High Speed and TV was back up. It would seem to me that where ever (locally) Comcast gets power for their booster, whatever's, they either don't have any backup power or it is very minimal. My Verizon landlines worked all the time since they are powered from the CO standby power source or main.

Comcast likely does not care much about emergency power for their services. I always thought it was a PUC requirement to provide service during a power outage if at all possible. Guess that theory went out the window with the digital age.

What will the future hold???


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Cox Cable is vigorously promoting their digital telephone service in Oklahoma City, and probably in many places they serve. There is a note in their ads and mailings that your service may be interrupted during power outages.

Is there any particular advantage to "digital" telephone service? Most interoffice and toll trunks are "digital" now, and it would seem that for the subscriber loop to be "digital" just adds one additional thing that could go wrong.

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Wes Leatherock

Probably price. My neighbors who got Comcast service apparently pay less for national flat rate (in a cable TV combo bundled package) than I pay Verizon for phone service alone.

I'm no expert on pricing, but it seems paying a la carte for services is more expensive these days. I think I'd like FIOS, but my condo won't allow it 'cause they think the boxes would be ugly.

But pricing is very tricky because the carriers constantly change their pricing. They also have deep discounted intro offers that go up steeply after a while. Some of the plans have a time committment

I've also heard numerous horror stories that customer service or repair can be very difficult to reach once they have you signed up. Verizon landline isn't as good as the old Bell System days, but you can reasonably reach someone.

I don't know anyone who has FIOS who lost power in this particular storm, so I don't know how well they held up. I do know FIOS users who lost power for a long time in other storms and they lost service after a few hours. As mentioned, my landline never stopped working.

For my cable TV service (Comcast), they advertise they have great customer service but my experiences were not so great. My neighbors and I had a strange problem of some stations coming through but not others. Since my neighbors had the exact same problem it obviously wasn't a problem within my own home but rather in their lines. However, the customer service rep treated it as my problem and refused to deviate from the script she was reading--are my cables connected, etc. I also get tired of them constantly pushing their premium packages on me.

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Maybe they *assumed* 'analog' service . . . . .


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I once had a chance to use ISDN BRI service for my home phone, and I was surprised at how much better it sounded than the POTS line it replaced. I had the same instruments, the same house wiring, etc.: the only thing added was a Motorola BitSurfer ISDN converter.

I had a career as a broadcast engineer in between Ma Bell's layoffs, so I'm particular about audio quality. The advantage of digital is that there's better sound.



Reply to
Bill Horne

Almost all communications services these days are deregulated and all the rules of the old world no longer apply. (The same applies to banking).

I think the very basic POTS line is still regulated, but I'm not sure if that still includes service quality. The stuff in the front of the phone book seems more oriented toward protecting subscribers from losing their basic local phone service, from a Baby Bell, for lack of payment.

When the old Bell System was a monopoly, they always feared it would be taken away from them, and thus worked hard to maintain high service quality. Obviously that's no longer true, and it appears the Baby Bells don't care too much about old style landline service.

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That's simply not true of wireline telephony.

Nor, in most states, of any entity providing anything that looks sufficiently like fixed location, wired telephone service -- for example, the cable TV companies in-house telcos. If the power went out and you lost phone service supplied by your local cableco even though you arranged for your terminal equipment to be powered -- you should complain to the state regulator. By deciding to play telephone company, the cable companies incurred all the same responsibilites to keep their network elements powered during emergencies that Ma Bell had.

Perhaps they are hoping customers don't know that, or tell each other it is not so.

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