Vandals Hit Comcast in Detroit

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It's an operator's nightmare: An outage during a highly anticipated sporting event. Double that, and imagine the chagrin of executives with Comcast Corp.'s Southeast Division when vandals took down parts of the Detroit system on June 8 — darkening viewers' screens in time for two marquee sporting events.

As many as 14,000 subscribers were unable to see Game 5 of the National Hockey League's Stanley Cup Finals, a triple-overtime affair in which the hometown Red Wings defeated the Carolina Hurricanes. They also lost out on the much-anticipated Mike Tyson-Lennox Lewis heavyweight title PPV fight.

Vandals slashed the plant in two places, minutes apart, at about 11 p.m. Regional vice president Mike Cleland said the cuts were clearly made by someone with knowledge of a broadband plant and appeared to be executed for maximum damage.

One cut was so severe — and repair work so complicated — it took 14 hours to remedy.

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

REFUNDS DUE

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.

It's not the first time the company has been victimized, according to Rich Ruggiero, regional communications director.

In a similar attack in early February the system also suffered two cuts to its fiber-optic plant, which occurred on a weekend and about five hours apart.

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