Vandals Cut Comcast During Cup, Bout

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It's an operator's worst nightmare -- an outage during a highly anticipated
sporting event.

Double that, and one can imagine the chagrin of executives at Comcast Cable
Communications Inc.'s Southeast division, where vandals took down parts of the
Detroit system June 8, darkening the sets of viewers for two marquee sporting
events.

As many as 14,000 homes lost access to the triple-overtime Stanley Cup
National Hockey League playoff game between the hometown Detroit Red Wings and
the Carolina Hurricanes, as well as the pay-per-view heavyweight-boxing title
match between Lennox Lewis and Mike Tyson.

The vandals slashed the plant in two places, minutes apart, at about 11
p.m.

Regional vice president Mike Cleland said the cuts were obviously made by
someone with knowledge of broadband plant, and they appeared to be executed for
maximum damage. One cut was so severe, and its repair so complicated, that it
took 14 hours to remedy.

In addition to the video customers, 1,000 high-speed-data customers lost
their Internet connections, executives said.

As a result of the vandalism, Comcast will refund the purchase price of the
PPV event, up to $54.95, to 500 customers. That alone will cost the system up to
$27,500 in lost revenue. Cleland said the system would credit all affected
customers for the blackout.

It's not the first time the company has been victimized, according to
regional communications director Rich Ruggiero. In a very similar attack in
early February, the system also suffered two cuts to the fiber optic plant,
occurring on a weekend and about five hours apart.

Following such attacks, suspicions fall on disaffected workers or disgruntled
former employees.

The Communications Workers of America, which represents some of Comcast's
workers, announced that it is supporting Comcast in its offer of a $10,000
reward for information on the saboteurs.

Comcast is taking measures to 'safeguard critical locations' during Thursday
night's game five of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

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