It's probably a good thing that Time Warner Cable schedules its network maintenance for really early in the morning. That way, when things go terribly wrong and internet somehow gets knocked out across the entire United States, most customers are asleep and none the wiser. That's exactly what happened today; the company says that at around 4:30AM this morning, routine maintenance took a decidedly bad turn and left every single Time Warner Cable customer without web access. Nationwide outages are fairly uncommon — especially when you're talking about an ISP the size of Time Warner Cable, which provides high-speed broadband to 11.4 million residential customers.
"An issue with our internet backbone created disruption with our internet and On Demand services," the company said in a statement. "As of 6AM ET services were largely restored as updates continue to bring all customers back online." Some customers are still intermittently reporting issues, but most are already back up and running.
Even so, the embarrassing mishap won't do Time Warner Cable any favors in the eyes of customers as it continues its quest to merge with Comcast. It's a bit disconcerting that a botched maintenance session could result in such severe consequences, and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo isn't happy about it. "Dependable internet service is a vital link in our daily lives and telecommunications companies have a responsibility to deliver reliable service to their customers," Cuomo said in a statement after service had been restored. “I have directed the New York State Department of Public Service to investigate this outage as part of its review of Comcast's proposed merger with Time Warner [Cable]."
We should note that the disruption didn't affect cable reception (aside from on-demand programming), nor did it interrupt TWC's voice services. But anyone that needed an internet connection early Wednesday morning had to look elsewhere. Presumably some of those people turned to smartphone tethering as a temporary solution; Comcast counts LTE and wireless carriers among its competition, after all.