A severed fiber-optic line in South Lake Union caused a widespread outage for thousands of Comcast subscribers in the Seattle area Thursday.
An estimated 30,000 Comcast customers in the Seattle area were affected by an extensive outage Thursday caused by a construction crew cutting through a fiber-optic line in South Lake Union.
A non-Comcast construction crew cut through a “major fiber-optic trunk line” serving Comcast customers in Madison Park, parts of Capitol Hill and parts of downtown Seattle around 9 a.m. Thursday, according to Steve Kipp, vice president for communications for Comcast in Washington. There were reports of outages in other areas of Seattle as well.
Comcast crews worked all day to splice the cable back together, and service was restored to some areas. Repairs continued through the evening, Kipp said.
Service was restored to about 90 percent of customers by 7 p.m., and restored to all areas an hour later, Kipp said.
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The Washington Emergency Management Division said some customers lost 911 service because of the outage. Local 911 dispatch centers weren’t affected, but people who lost landline service were advised to use cellphones if they needed to call 911.
Throughout the day, restoration estimates on the company’s website ranged anywhere from 1 p.m. to 9:45 p.m., to “as soon as possible.”
Technicians used splicing equipment to repair the damage, which brought up different areas at different times, according to Comcast.
Crews also repaired construction damage in South Lake Union.
“It’s not pretty,” Comcast tweeted.
Frustrated customers took to social media to document their downed Internet with photos of empty offices and idle laptops.
The outage benefited at least one Capitol Hill business, though: Porchlight Coffee had an increase in customers who wanted to use the coffee shop’s Internet, provided by CenturyLink, according to barista Nikki Buckley.
“We got a lot of calls asking if we had Internet, that’s for sure,” Buckley said.
Comcast is Seattle’s largest cable operator, serving about 200,000 subscribers with Internet service, cable television and in some cases, telephone service, according to the city of Seattle Office of Cable Communications. According to survey data from Nielsen Scarborough, a market-research company, more than half the population in the Seattle area say they use Comcast for Internet service.
Mayor Ed Murray’s Office said households affected by the outage have some recourse under Seattle’s franchise agreement with Comcast and the city of Seattle’s Cable Customer Bill of Rights.
Under the Bill of Rights, a customer who calls Comcast to report an outage will “receive credit for an entire day on which the outage occurred and for each additional day the outage continues.”
The Bill of Rights also states that repairs must be made within two to 24 hours, depending on the extent and source of the outage.
Subscribers can report outages by calling 1-800-COMCAST (266-2278).
Thursday night, there was no answer. The line was busy.