The week of Jan. 31 was a stressful time for sports fans
and other couch potatoes in Atlanta, which suffered not one, but two catastrophic system
outages -- one during the Super Bowl.
Many Atlanta-area subscribers served by MediaOne Group Inc.
could not watch the home-team Falcons during parts of Super Sunday. A fire at a Georgia
Power Co. Norcross station transformer crashed the systems for about 90 minutes.
The hardest-hit areas included Atlanta's
Virginia-Highlands neighborhood, extending out to the cities of Duluth and Alpharetta,
The crash, which began just after the coin toss, sent Super
Bowl party hosts scrambling out to their garages for makeshift aerials, according to local
press. Some fans got cable service resumed in the second quarter, while others only saw
the game if they switched to off-air reception. The power outage caused signal failures
even in homes that didn't lose power.
MediaOne decided to offer a credit of about $16 per
affected home as a goodwill gesture to subscribers, even though it wasn't the
The outage was "something that we felt hit home quite
strongly," company spokesman Dave Wood said, adding that customers called to complain
to the cable operator, and not to the power company.
Before tempers had a chance to cool completely,
MediaOne's plant took another hit. On Feb. 3, a subcontractor unaffiliated with the
cable company cut into MediaOne's fiber optic plant, affecting 150,000 homes.
Consumers were not completely blacked out, but all of them
lost some channels, Wood said. The cut occurred at 4:30 p.m. last Wednesday, and service
was not fully restored until 6:30 a.m. Thursday.
"These [outages] have been purely accidental ... While
we're not pointing fingers, we are stressing that this was not a failure of our
equipment," Wood added.