Time Warner Cable suffered a massive Internet outage this week that left more than 11 million customers without Internet access for approximately three hours. No biggie, though, these sorts of things happen every now and then… right? Well, maybe. But MIT’s Technology Review has talked with some experts who say that TWC’s big outage this week raises some troubling questions about its overall infrastructure.
To start with, Technology Review notes that it seems a single human error was somehow able to cascade throughout TWC’s entire network and leave it crippled for hours. David Erickson, a cofounder of networking software company Forward Networks, says that such mistakes are “entirely preventable” while implying that a big company like TWC should really be more on top of its game.
And Jonathan Zittrain, a professor of Internet law at Harvard Law School, tellsTechnology Review that he’s most disturbed that TWC hasn’t disclosed many details about the outage that would give us a better idea of exactly what caused it and whether it was something that TWC should have been able to prevent with due diligence.
“We ought to have standards for release of data by broadband providers to allow apples-to-apples comparisons and tracking of outages over time so the public, and policymakers, can gauge trends in connectivity,” Zittrain explained, while also saying that such outages are magnified when an ISP has a last-mile monopoly in any given area.
Apparently tired of seeing Comcast hog all the bad publicity this past month, would-be merger partner Time Warner Cable has leapt back into the spotlight by delivering a nationwide Internet service outage. As Business Insider reports, TWC customers are complaining that their Internet service is down from coast to coast and an outage map posted on Twitter seems to show that this outage affects just about every customer in TWC’s footprint.
To make matters worse, TWC’s website is completely down as well and phone calls to the company are yielding nothing but busy signals. There’s been no word yet on what’s causing the outage or when you can expect it to get fixed but we’ll be sure to post details from the company when we get them.
And if you’re a frustrated TWC customer, don’t worry — all of these kinds of problems will be fixed once TWC merges with Comcast, which has an absolutely stellar track record when it comes to customer service.
UPDATE: TWC has just sent out a message saying that it’s working as quickly as possible to restore service in all affected areas and that it doesn’t have an estimated time for when all services will be back online.
Time Warner Cable also offered the following explanation for the outage: “At 4:30 a.m. ET this morning during our routine network maintenance, an issue with our Internet backbone created disruption with our Internet & On Demand services. As of 6 a.m. ET services were largely restored as updates continue to bring all customers back online.”
Netflix has defended Net Neutrality numerous times before, all the while having to ink interconnect deals with four major ISPs (including Comcast and TWC) to ensure its customers get an enjoyable movie streaming experience.
In its lengthy FCC petition, Netflix explains that a Comcast-TWC giant would have huge leverage over Netflix, Hulu and other competing providers, as it would not only be in a position to charge these services fees for faster service, but also provide competing video-on-demand services of its own which could further hurt video streaming companies, Engadget reports
Netflix also said that Comcast and TWC’s claims that there is enough competition in the business are disingenuous, as in many markets there’s no such competition, and DSL Internet service from AT&T and Verizon isn’t enough for Netflix video streaming.
This lack of competition will further put Comcast-TWC in a position in which it could intentionally slow traffic in “terminating networks,” where content moves from one network to the ISP’s to ask more money from a content service provider in exchange for better traffic.
Engadget points out that Dish has also petitioned the FCC against the same proposed merger, similarly highlighting the negative aspects of the Comcast-TWC deal.