Comcast outage blocks Google, YouTube
A hardware problem in Comcast's Boston-area Internet network got dozens of local cable-modem surfers steamed, according to Bostonist. Google and YouTube were among the sites temporarily blocked. The outage was no big deal, but what provoked major howls was Comcast's do-nothing, blame-everyone customer support. Phone reps blamed users' Firefox Web browsers, telling them to switch to Internet Explorer, or said Google was at fault for the problem. Others told Gmail users to use Comcast email instead. Another rep told Bostonist that Comcast wouldn't do anything to fix the problem until a "critical number of calls" came through. Comcast did finally fess up that it was at fault, blaming a server for the incident.
But that raises a good question: If this kind of blockage can happen by accident, imagine what Comcast could do intentionally to block other websites. There's been a lot of debate about "net neutrality" - the idea that Internet service providers shouldn't favor one set of websites over another, and this outage highlights the problem. And it also raises the possibility of a more passive-aggressive kind of discrimination: By steering customers to its own websites and placing the blame on others instead of addressing its own network-connection problems, is Comcast unfairly undermining its Internet rivals?
Comcast already *does* impinge on net neutrality by arbitrailiy blocking email from ISPs that it deems, using its own private set of criteria, "send too much spam". In many cases, the only crime that an ISP has committed to be blocked is that they allow their users to forward email to a comcast.net address, and sometimes, that includes forwarding spam that made it through that ISP's spam filters.
Look at http://www.dreamhoststatus.com/2006/08/30/comcast-forwards-to-be-disabled-and-aol-update/
The fact that, as your article points out, their customer service seems to be willing to blame anyone except themselves have left a lot of small ISPs and mail services out in the cold. They don't have the resources to fight the 800lb. gorilla.
Thanks for this article. I am a Comcast customer in Boston and I couldn't understand why I couldn't get GMAIL or Google on my home computer but I could get it on my VPN'd work computer. Since it's a local Comcast problem it makes sense but boy was I confused yesterday!!
Comcast just took over control of my cable service, Time Warner Cable, and in less than a week, they've already screwed things up and shown me that they're not going to be very cooperative.
And I've already seen the same problems mentioned in a previous posting about the blocking smaller ISP's mail services...that was a real stinker!
I ordered Comcast Internet service about a month ago. It has worked intermittently for about a week. Comcast admits the problem is with their system, yet refuses to credit my account for service I have not received. Comcast Corporation's annual revenues are $22,255,000,000. If customers do not receive service 1% of the time because their system is down and Comcast refuses to credit the account for the unused portion, Comcast gains $222,550,000 for services they did not provide. I'm surprised an attorney has not looked into this (hint).
CNNMoney.com Comment Policy: CNNMoney.com encourages you to add a comment to this discussion. You may not post any unlawful, threatening, libelous, defamatory, obscene, pornographic or other material that would violate the law. Please note that CNNMoney.com makes reasonable efforts to review all comments prior to posting and CNNMoney.com may edit comments for clarity or to keep out questionable or off-topic material. All comments should be relevant to the post and remain respectful of other authors and commenters. By submitting your comment, you hereby give CNNMoney.com the right, but not the obligation, to post, air, edit, exhibit, telecast, cablecast, webcast, re-use, publish, reproduce, use, license, print, distribute or otherwise use your comment(s) and accompanying personal identifying information via all forms of media now known or hereafter devised, worldwide, in perpetuity. CNNMoney.com Privacy Statement.