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Cable Technology Feature Article

December 06, 2010

Comcast Outage Enrages Users in Twin Cities and Midwest Regions

By Susan J. Campbell, TMCnet Contributing Editor

Comcast customers are likely furious in the Twin (News - Alert) Cities region and specific areas of the surrounding Midwest. According to a Twin Cities local news report, Internet users throughout the area were knocked offline Sunday night.

The outage was reportedly tied to the company’s vital “domain name system” servers, which are responsible for translating obscure numerical Internet addresses into familiar Web URLs. With the DNS system out of order, customers couldn’t do anything online.

One Comcast (News - Alert) official, Bill Gerth, posted a tweet on Twitter late Sunday evening that he was with several engineers and they were trying to resolve the DNS outage as quickly as possible. He also acknowledged that the outage was affecting customers in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Minnesota.

Gerth wasn’t the only one posting about the outage on Twitter. Outraged Twin Cities users expressed their displeasure on the micro-blogging site, as well as other social networks, by using their smartphones or wireless laptop modems.

Those seeking help were met with inaccessible phone lines and live-chat support did little more than simply relay that there was an outage in the area to those who tried to get help from the company.

So far, Comcast has merely stated to the press through a company spokesman: "Our engineering team is aware of the situation and working to resolve all outstanding issues as quickly as possible. We don't have additional information at this time, but will keep you posted as details become available."

There was a quick and easy way for Comcast users to get back online: simply using alternative DNS servers, such as OpenDNS and Google (News - Alert) Public DNS. Opting for these avenues got customers back online in minutes. Users discovering this alternative were pouring in the tweets to let others know.

While this workaround was a “life-saver” for individual users in the affected areas, businesses that rely on Comcast Internet for credit and debit transactions faced a tougher challenge – especially if the business lacked an on-site IT and processes were automated. In this heavy shopping time of year, it is likely that many lost business.

In other Comcast news, the company reported last week that it celebrated – along with One Economy – the success of a technology learning and service initiative that teaches young people about broadband technologies and how they can put that knowledge to work while serving the Philadelphia community.

The program, known as Comcast Digital Connectors, launched its first classes in 2009 at Project H.O.M.E. and the People's Emergency Center (PEC) and currently takes place during after-school hours during the school year.

Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMCnet and has also written for eastbiz.com. To read more of Susan’s articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Tammy Wolf