Cable Operators

Ops Dig Out After Blizzard Wallops Northeast

Outages Mostly Related to Loss of Power, According to MSOs 2/09/2013 8:14 AM Eastern

Cable operators across the Northeast were assessing recovery efforts, after a powerful winter storm dumped more than two feet of snow across the region on Friday and into Saturday.

Most service outages that have occurred appear to be directly related to commercial power outages caused by the blizzard, which The Weather Channel dubbed "Nemo" and which the National Weather Service is simply calling a "major winter storm."

Cablevision Systems is experiencing limited service interruptions, particularly in areas where there is a loss of power, according to spokeswoman Charlstie Veith.

“The most heavily impacted area is eastern Long Island, and our crews are in the field restoring Optimum services to affected customers,” Veith said. The MSO's 60,000-plus Optimum Wi-Fi hotspots currently remain operational throughout the greater New York metro area for Cablevision subscribers and those of participating MSOs, she added.

In Comcast territories affected by the storm, the majority of customers without service will see their TV, Internet and phone return once power is restored to their homes, said Beth Bacha, vice president of public relations for Comcast's Northeast division.

"We will continue working closely with local and state officials, as well as with the power companies, to assess damage and restore service as quickly and safely as possible," Bacha said. She noted that as of Saturday morning, travel bans remained in effect throughout most of the affected areas.

Ahead of the storm, Comcast took "numerous incremental measures" to prepare, Bacha said, including increasing staffing and lining up employees to work overtime, preparing backup generators and other supplies and securing additional backup generators from regions that were not expected to be hit.

Comcast is providing updates on the storm at The operator emailed customers to remind them they can set up alerts for mobile devices to check for outage updates. In addition, Comcast has opened Xfinity Wi-Fi hotspots for free to anybody through Feb. 15.

Verizon Communications’ wireline network “is performing well despite the fury of Nemo,” spokesman Bill Kula said.

The telco’s total trouble reports are within a normal range for this time of year, “although we expect those numbers to increase as the storm runs its course,” Kula said.

A small number of Verizon’s poles are down and will require repair or replacement, he said. In addition, more than 50 of the telco’s central offices and/or remote terminals, chiefly in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, currently are operating on backup generators due to the loss of commercial power, Kula said.

“Our priority for Verizon employees working outside is their safety. As road conditions improve, more employees will be working in the field as part of our restoration efforts,” Kula said.

For Cox Communications’ New England region, a significant percentage of homes in Connecticut and Rhode Island remain without power, director of media relations Todd Smith.

“It is important to remember that our network also requires commercial power to remain operational. If you have commercial power in your home but no Cox services, it is likely that a lack of power to our network in the area is responsible,” the MSO said in a statement.

Time Warner Cable had only a "small fraction of 1%" of customers without service in New York City and New England, mostly due to loss of power, said Rich Ruggiero, vice president of public relations for TWC's East Region.

The "impact of the storm has been thankfully minimal," Ruggiero said. "We rescheduled our scheduled appointments for this morning in NYC and much of New England, but are on schedule for this afternoon." TWC also closed about half a dozen retail stores in Maine and Massachusetts for Saturday.

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