Time Warner Outage Has New York State Investigation on Reliability

Posted by at 11:35 am on September 4, 2014

timewarnercableOne bad configuration knocked a significant number of Time Warner Cable customers off of their Internet connections last week, and now the state of New York is investigating the outage.

Time Warner Cable suffered a massive outage covering 29 states and 11 million customers on Wednesday, August 27. “During an overnight network maintenance activity in which we were managing IP addresses, an erroneous configuration was propagated throughout our national backbone, resulting in a network outage,” according to Time Warner.

This outage could not come at a more critical time for Time Warner Cable as the company is seeking regulatory approval for a $45 billion merger with Comcast. While exact details are sparse, the outage did occur during maintenance activity, indicating possible human error. An outage of this scale has some calling into question the stability of the Time Warner infrastructure and the possibility of an even wider outage from a single entity if the merger is completed with Comcast. Rubbing salt into the wound even more, Time Warner Cable recently paid the FCC a $1.1 million settlement for improper disclosure of past outages.

At a fundamental core, the Internet was designed to handle failures and reroute traffic as needed to keep data connections online, which is why this outage is so alarming. It should not be possible for a single configuration error to cause an outage affecting so many users, even if the issue occurs within the main backbone infrastructure.

Time Warner has not released exact details about the outage, nor is it likely they will due to security concerns. For some, this does highlight the fragile nature of the Internet and our dependency on it. Time Warner now faces an investigation from New York State’s Department of Public Service as Internet traffic is increasingly considered a public service, especially when it comes to emergency services.

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