Service outages: The untold stories

One of the hottest stories last month was the service outage that affected many Skype customers for at least a day, if not longer. The service outage made headlines globally and was seized upon by both critics of VoIP reliability and proponents of traditional telephony reliability.

Over the course of the last week or so, AT&T has experienced separate, very limited service outages in Texas (affecting Sprint wireless customers), North Carolina and Tennessee (both affecting wireline service, and resulting from different human errors).

Also, Time Warner has suffered a cable telephony outage in North Carolina. Yet, you'll have to dig deep if you want to read more about these outages; they were reported only by local daily newspapers in the affected markets.

These outages occurred for a variety of reasons, some known, others still unidentified. Granted, the Skype outage affected 220 million users worldwide and resulted from an immediately-identifiable glitch. The point is that service disruptions might happen more frequently than we believe. Network reliability and service availability are still the bedrock standards of a telco's reputation, but at some point outages happen to pretty much any service provider, whether by accident, human error or force of nature. Here's a report on the AT&T outage in Tennessee, and here's coverage of the Time Warner outage in North Carolina.- Dan