By Bob Wallace
Comcast Corp. technicians began working on an unspecified emergency server problem that knocked out its VoD service to as many as 40 towns Wednesday, the latest technical difficulties in Massachusetts in the last two months.
A customer service representative added that the outage began at roughly midnight with service not expected to be restored until later Wednesday. The agent could not quantify the number of subscribers affected, but said the Foxboro, Mass., server farm provides service in about 40 communities.
Customers were unable to access free or pay-per-view content during the outage and received error messages after being welcomed to On Demand and again when attempting to view VoD content.
The cableco's first error message instructed consumers to call customer service. Comcast's cable service experienced technical problems in late February in parts of Massachusetts.
Customers attempting to access VoD as late as 11 a.m. EDT were still receiving error messages saying the system could not process their request. But customers were able to view free VoD content and free movie previews at that point.
A Comcast spokesman stressed that despite the error messages, service had been restored. Some customers may have received error messages, he said, adding that as of late Wednesday morning "technicians are working to resolve the issue."
The spokesman said the VoD problems were not the result of a server outage, but would not specify the cause of the problem.
Comcast has made several major advances in VoD programming in the past six months, having cut a deal with CBS Corp. to show its 'CSI' franchise of series, 'NCIS,' 'Numbers' and 'Jericho' as part of its free VoD content.
It also signed a far-reaching content agreement in November with Walt Disney Co., aimed, in part, to provide Comcast customers a broad array of VoD programming.