Internet Outages Annoy Comcast Customers

========== Originally date April 16 =========

By Dan Lee, Mercury News

Cable provider Comcast said Thursday that it was working on technical problems that caused a series of outages in recent days for many of the 7 million people who subscribe to its high-speed Internet service.

Some customers could not access Web pages or e-mail at all. Some had slower-than-normal service, while others had no problems at all, Comcast said ."It doesn't affect all customers, according to Comcast spokesman Andrew Johnson. "The length varies and the customer experience differs."

Philadelphia-based Comcast is the dominant provider of cable service in the Bay Area.

Johnson said the network operated without any problems Thursday. The outages started late last week and cropped up again Tuesday and Wednesday, he said, causing several hours of down time in the evening.

Some Comcast Internet customers were as annoyed ith the company's response to their calls as they were with the outages.

Dan Calic of Menlo Park said he was unable to gain access to the Internet or e-mail from his home computer from Tuesday evening until Wednesday morning.

When he called customer support, he received little information other than that Comcast was aware of a problem.

"It would seem to me that they might be able to provide you with some more information and/or some possible work-arounds," said Calic, who found he could access the Internet using his laptop and home wireless network.

Comcast said the outages had been intermittent and its engineers were working to pinpoint the source of the problem. Johnson said the problem relates to the company's Domain Name Servers, the equipment that translates the Web addresses users type into their browsers into the true numerical Internet Protocol addresses read by the computer.

Some Comcast customers made postings at the Comcast forum at www.broadband on how to switch to an alternative Domain Name Server.

Maggie Sherman of Los Gatos said she has had trouble with her Comcast access to the Internet for periods Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

"The first time I called," she said, "I was on hold for 12 minutes and disconnected."

Johnson said customers with questions should contact customer service at (800) 266-2278.

Contact Dan Lee at href="mailto: or (408) 920-5425 Copyright 2005

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[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: This is one good reason for keeping a dialup ISP in the background. When we had that quite short outage on Cable One last week, I was preparing to switch to dial-up (and 56K!) as needed for the 'duration', which was thankfully very short. And this also goes to show how different cable internet services have different ways of dealing with problems. Our local office of Cable One _called me_ in the process of calling all their various customers in the Independence, Cherryvale, Neodesha area to notify us that there was trouble. They called me back fifteen minutes later or so to tell me it had been cured. I gather from reading this report, that Comcast let their customers discover the problems on their own. PAT]

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Lisa Minter
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