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Cable operators work overtime to pick up after Irene

Mon, 08/29/2011 - 8:30am
Mike Robuck

It was a long weekend for East Coast cable operator employees as they dealt with the impact of Tropical Storm Irene, but by most accounts, services in the impacted areas were on the mend thanks to proactive plans that were put in place.

While Irene's blow wasn't as bad as originally anticipated, cable operator services were out in some areas mainly due to power outages. Cable operators had staff members and technicians on call, but in most cases, they weren't allowed to restore their services until after the respective utility companies were finished.

Here's a recap of how some of the cable operators faired over the weekend, as well as their efforts to get services back online.

TWC's Business Recovery UnitTime Warner Cable
The nation's second-largest cable operator has a large presence on the East Coast, with its East Region providing triple-play services to more than 5.9 million residential and business customers. Updates from Time Warner Cable's New York City and Northeast systems weren't available by deadline this morning, but the cable operator did provide information on its Carolinas system.

As of 9 a.m. EST yesterday, approximately 82,000 customers were without service, down from a peak of about 160,000 at 6 p.m. EST Saturday across North and South Carolina.

The systems with the most significant impact were Wilmington, Newport, Morehead City, Jacksonville, Havelock, Elizabeth City, Murfreesboro and Ahoskie in eastern North Carolina. Time Warner Cable said it also experienced significant impact as far inland as Goldsboro and Wilson.

More than 500 Time Warner Cable maintenance, engineering, construction and technical personnel are in Eastern North Carolina conducting repairs and continuing with damage assessments.

"Our personnel have been hard at work around the clock to restore service as quickly and safely as possible," said Christine Whitaker, TWC's area vice president of operations for eastern North Carolina. "We appreciate our customers' patience as we work to restore Time Warner Cable services lost as Hurricane Irene made her way up the North Carolina coast."

In New York City, Time Warner Cable provides services in the boroughs of Staten Island, Manhattan and Queens, as well as in one-third of Brooklyn. Lower areas of Manhattan were prone to flooding over the weekend.

Cox Communications
Roughly 30 percent of Cox Communications' subscribers in its Hampton Roads, Va., system lost their services because of storm damage, mainly due to power outages.

As of 4 p.m. EST yesterday, almost 92 percent of Cox residential and business customers in Fairfax County and Fredericksburg (Cox's northern Virginia operations) had their service restored. Cox reopened its Solutions Stores in northern Virginia and continues to work to restore customers in northern Virginia and Hampton Roads service areas.

Nearly 85 percent of Cox residential and business customers in northern Virginia and 75 percent in southern Virginia were not impacted with service outages during the storm.

In Cox's New England region, which includes Rhode Island and Connecticut, technical support team members were assessing the state of the broadband network late Sunday afternoon.

Cablevision
Cablevision offers its services in the Bronx and the remaining area of Brooklyn not served by Time Warner Cable, as well as in areas outside of New York City such as Westchester County.

"Following Hurricane Irene, Cablevision is experiencing widespread service interruptions, primarily related to the loss of power," Cablevision wrote in a statement released yesterday. "Cablevision crews are in the field and will be working around the clock to make necessary repairs, in close coordination with local utilities. Generally, as electricity is returned to an area, customers will be able to access Cablevision service."

Suddenlink Communications
Suddenlink said this morning that a majority of its eastern North Carolina customers – approaching 60 percent – now have service restored, with the greatest percentage restored in the Greenville area, which was more than 80 percent restored.

Suddenlink's North Carolina managers estimated that in 75 percent of the areas where it knew there was damage to its local network, crews hadn't been cleared by power company officials to start repairs as of 9 a.m. EST. Restoration efforts were well underway in the areas where access had been approved, and repairs will start in the remainder as soon as Suddenlink gets the green light from the power company.

Irene hit the Carolinas on Saturday, with Suddenlink's main technical facilities in Greenville, Rocky Mount and Washington, N.C., maintaining their commercial power, while those in Kinston, New Bern and Parmele, N.C., were being powered by generators in the early going.

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