On Buckeye Express Outages, CMTS Failures, and Dark Internets

Left: How a CMTS is supposed to work

According to the customer service representative I just spoke with, the lengthy service outage with Buckeye Express this evening was due to a faulty cable modem termination system (CMTS) at the company's main facility. In my neighborhood the outage lasted about three hours. I know this because I tried to piggyback some of the wireless signals of my neighbors, but all of them had the yellow caution triangle over the graphic.

Hey - I teach online, so I was a bit desperate to link up with my students.

There is always a surreal, almost absurdist aspect to being without Internet service these days. I first struggled to find the number to Buckeye Express, since the phone book never gets used any longer except for a door stop. I normally just Google any phone number queries, since a Google search is dozens of times faster than locating and flipping through the Yellow Pages like a diet-obsessed person seeking the best weight loss pills.

I finally called Sprint 411 and received the number, but I spent over an hour just trying to get through to a live human being. The first few dozen calls never even made it to the switchboard system, and were simply booted out with a message along the lines of "Your call cannot be completed as dialed. Please try your call later [then in Spanish] El numero que ha marcado no puede ser procesado. Por favor, intente de llamar mas tarde."

Perhaps 15 minutes after I finally spoke with a customer service representative, Internet service was restored and life began to return to normal. I think my life is disrupted much more by an Internet outage than by a telephone service problems (admittedly I despise the phone, so this is probably a poor comparison). Yet an unimaginable amount of communication flows through the Internet these days, and even a few dark hours can seem like an isolated eternity.