Fiber cuts take down Cogent Communications backbone

Customers reported trouble with their Internet connections

Customers of major ISP Cogent Communications Inc. began having trouble with their Internet connections this morning after the carrier experienced a bad-luck double whammy: Accidents took down two of its fiber network connections in quick succession.

A fiber in New Orleans was sliced during reconstruction work in the city shortly before 8:30 a.m. local time. Two hours later, a fiber in Washington, D.C., was damaged. Cumulatively, the accidents severely crimped Cogent's nationwide network availability, Cogent spokesman Jeff Henriksen said. Cogent is based in Washington.

Repair crews were working in the midafternoon today, and Cogent expected its network to be fixed by later in the day, Henriksen said. The Washington fiber was repaired around 3:30 p.m. Eastern time, he said.

Cogent's network troubles come shortly after its customers suffered through another, unrelated outage. Last month, Cogent engaged in a fight with another major ISP, Level 3 Communications Inc., that led to temporary termination of the "peering" traffic-exchange agreement between the two Internet backbones. The companies' customers endured three days of spotty network connectivity before Level 3 relented and restored its peering connection to Cogent.

Network managers began feeling the effects of Cogent's fiber cuts almost immediately. The company's network status Web site was unavailable for many, and members of the North American Network Operators Group mailing list began swapping stories early in the day of dropped Cogent connections. Keynote Systems Inc.'s Internet Health Report monitoring system quickly picked up widespread Cogent problems and latency, which had begun to fade somewhat by this afternoon, according to Keynote's tracking system.

Catastrophic fiber cuts are relatively rare, and it's especially unusual to see two unrelated ones in one day. Henriksen said he couldn't remember a similar event in Cogent's six-year history.

Copyright © 2005 IDG Communications, Inc.

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