Over the last two days, I've gotten reports from coworkers and others on Twitter that their Verizon Internet service was down. It sounded like it was its DSL service, and the reports I picked up seemed to range from around Glen Burnie to North Baltimore. These weren't just people cheesed off about not being able to watch Netflix. These were small business owners who couldn't run credit cards, for instance.
I emailed a Verizon Maryland spokeswoman yesterday. Didn't hear back. Today, I went on Twitter and saw that Verizon had not tweeted about a significant outage in the Baltimore area. The vitriol directed at Verizon over its Internet service (just search @verizonsupport) is a bit astounding. (Sure, there are many who say they love FiOS, to be fair.)
As far as I can tell, Verizon's approach on Twitter was to handle every single customer complaint about the outage with a direct message. I could not find a record of any Tweet by @VerizonSupport that described the outage in broad, explanatory terms to Verizon's customers.
If @VerizonSupport did tweet out information about the outage, then I'd love for someone to point me to it, and I will amend and correct this blog post.
So today, I emailed the Verizon spokeswoman again, and called. This afternoon, I got an email response:
A router went down sometime late Sunday (11/6), early Monday morning (11/7) when a portion of the processing unit failed. Repairs were made and services restored around 3 p.m. yesterday. It’s my understanding that customers still experiencing difficulties need only reboot their routers at home and they should be back in business.
The statement didn't say how many customers were affected. So I emailed a followup question.
The response: Close to 5,000
Five thousand houses were without Internet service in the Baltimore area (updated: and parts of Montgomery County, too), and as far as I can tell, there was no public disclosure of this by Verizon, other than in response to my email questioning.
For comparison's sake, if you visit Baltimore Gas & Electric's website, a regulated utility by the Maryland Public Service Commssion, you'll see this super helpful map of power outages. In Anne Arundel County, six -- SIX -- people were without power on Tuesday afternoon. And BGE disclosed it to the public.
I asked Verizon's spokeswoman, Sandra Arnett, if the company would consider putting up an outage map for its phone and Internet customers.
In a followup email, Arnett told me: We don’t currently have an outage map. But, that is something we hope to develop soon to better keep our customers informed.
Verizon's telephone service is regulated by the PSC. But it's Internet service is not. The obvious question: If Internet service was regulated by the PSC, would Verizon have to do more to inform the community about Internet outages?
If you, as a Verizon customer, call the PSC to complain, it has to be about the phone service -- the PSC will just refer your Internet service complaint to the Maryland Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division. I'm waiting to hear back from them to see if they received any complaints about the Verizon outage this week.
UPDATE: I spoke with Alan Brody with the Maryland AG's office and he's trying to get me some consumer complaint data for Internet service in Maryland. In the meantime, if you have a complaint about your Internet service (with Verizon or another company), you can call 410-528-8662. 9 am to 3 pm Mon-Fri). Or visit: www.oag.state.md.us/consumer/complaint.htm
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