What Causes Cable Internet Outages?


What Causes Cable Internet Outages?

Today we’re going to take you through what causes cable internet outages, and how to troubleshoot connectivity issues. As internet outages increase around the world, many cable internet connections are less reliable than ever. Most of the cable internet outages experienced are caused by gadget failure or planned maintenance among others.


A number of factors can cause cable internet outages:

1. High network traffic

Because subscribers in the same areas share a local cable hub, your cable connection could go down if you and your neighbors overwhelm the hub with too much traffic. High network traffic usually causes temporary disruptions, like very slow internet speeds or frequent short outages.

2. Physical damage to cables

A network of coaxial cables – the same cables that support cable television – underpins every cable internet network. These cables are buried in pipes underground or suspended from poles like telephone lines. This physical network reaches across countries and even under oceans.

A downed cable either on your property, in your neighborhood, or within the larger cable network can interrupt your internet connection. Cable damage has a range of causes:

  • Animals, like squirrels and sharks, that chew through exposed cables
  • Extreme weather that causes water damage that leaves cables useless
  • Construction, earthquakes, and ground heave that dislodge buried cables
  • Car accidents that bring down suspended cables
3. Data Center and Exchange Node Failures

A failure at one of the data centers or local exchange nodes that process the requests sent across the cable network can also cause a disruption in service. These failures originate from:

  • Equipment failures that render these important information hubs useless
  • Power outages or electrical surges that shut down power to a hub
  • Extreme weather like lightning that causes physical damage to a hub
  • Fires that damage or destroy a hub
4. System bugs

A failure doesn’t have to be physical to bring down your cable internet. When your provider reconfigures its network software, it might accidentally introduce a software bug that affects your internet access. In 2017, for example, a small reconfiguration error at an upstream system provider took Comcast, Spectrum, Verizon, Cox, and RCN customers offline for 90 minutes.

5. Sabotage

While most internet outages are circumstantial or accidental, some are intentional. Denial of service (DDoS) attacks sometimes target service providers, overwhelming their data centers with fake traffic. In 2016, for example, a series of DDoS attacks by Anonymous and New World Hackers caused staggered cable internet outages across Europe and North America.

Burglars and vandals occasionally cut internet cables to suspend internet access for a single subscriber or cluster of subscribers. While cutting live cables is extremely risky, burglars are sometimes willing to take the risk if it lets them bypass an internet-connected security system.

Burglars have also been known to target data centers that house expensive equipment. A data center break-in can shut down internet access to anyone who relies on that data center.

A fixed wireless internet failover keeps you online

Fixed wireless internet is a wireless 5G or 4G LTE connection installed on a Wi-Fi router. It connects to the internet via local cell towers – exchanging internet data over the same radio frequency bands as cell phones, but it’s much stronger than a cell phone or a mobile hotspot.

Wireless internet connections are less vulnerable to physical damage than wired connections. For this reason, many people use fixed wireless internet as a failover internet option that automatically kicks in if their primary cable internet connection goes down for any reason.

Fixed wireless internet is a great option for people looking for a reliable wireless failover, as well as those looking for a primary internet option in areas without cable access.

To discover fixed 5G and 4G LTE options in your area, give us a call at 866-439-6630.