Cut fiber leads to all-day outage

By Julia Reis

The remote nature of the Coastside was called a contributing factor to the all-day Internet, cable and phone outage that thousands of Comcast and Verizon Wireless customers experienced on Wednesday.

The incident began around 9:30 Wednesday morning, when a non-Comcast crew pruning trees on La Honda Road accidentally damaged a Comcast fiber, according to a Comcast spokesman.

That caused 5,500 Comcast customers in the Half Moon Bay area to lose service. It also affected an unknown number of Verizon Wireless users. Verizon leases that fiber from Comcast for its wireless service, according to Public Relations Manager Heidi Flato.

The majority of Comcast customers saw their service restored around 6 p.m. that day, according to Bryan Byrd, Comcast director of communications for California. Verizon didn’t fully restore service to its network until 7:30 a.m. on Thursday, Flato said in an email.

“We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused,” she wrote.

Asked why it took several hours for service to be restored, Byrd said it has to do with the geography of the coast.

“There just isn’t as much fiber in that area, unlike an urban area where it’s all over the place and easy to place it anywhere,” he said. “It’s one of those tradeoffs. People live in a beautiful area, but it’s also very remote and rugged.”

Additionally, Byrd said that no one from the tree-trimming crew notified Comcast of the damage, so it took time to figure out where the problem originated.

“If the fiber is laying on the ground because a car hit it or someone flew a drone into it and cut it in half, it’s very obvious where it was cut and where the problem happened,” Byrd said. “But the fiber wasn’t completely severed – it was still intact, just cut.”

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