Internet outages are now rolling into Day 10 for hundreds of thousands of residents and businesses in South Florida. And for many, no internet means no business gets done.
Statewide, 893,409 people statewide were without Internet or cable services, down from 1.1 million on Sunday and 1.3 million on Saturday. The numbers are not broken down by county, according to data the carriers reported to the Federal Communications Commission. But judging by the frustration being vented on social media by AT&T, Comcast and Atlantic Broadband customers in South Florida, many of the outages are clearly in South Florida.
Since Hurricane Irma sideswiped our region with tropical-storm-force winds more than a week ago, the carriers have not released outage numbers by county. Nor have they released specific causes or estimated times of recovery to the media or to their customers in South Florida.
For many consumers who have taken their frustrations to social media, doing business without the internet has ranged from a challenge to the impossible. Restaurants and fast-food eateries such as some McDonald’s restaurants have become cash-only enterprises because they don’t have the internet access required for credit-card payments. Some car dealerships reportedly have been able to take customers on test drives but have been unable to execute sales without the internet access needed for processing.
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That was the case for Warren Henry’s South Dade dealership until Friday, when Comcast service was restored, said Samantha Jacobson, director of marketing. “Without the internet we were not able to do deals because our sales platforms are over the internet,” she said. The Key West location is still down.
Also suffering are the thousands who work at home, such as Michelle Bielecki, a freelance copywriter in Kendall. She also has a toddler under toe — who is demanding Netflix.
“I've tried being reasonable with AT&T, but they don't know anything, continually lie, and then recommended downloading their app or buying the new iPhone,” she said in a phone interview Monday.
Bielecki said she was even told she wasn’t part of the outage and her internet is working. It’s not. “I’ve heard no actual facts about when I’ll get my internet back,” she said.
Nicholas Frankovich, who writes and edits for National Review from his home office in Coral Gables, said he has heard from his provider, Comcast, but he’s still frustrated.
He thought his Comcast service in Coral Gables was restored. But he continues to experience outages, sometimes all night long, when he works — especially at night. Comcast told him a terminal through which his service is delivered was out, and his estimated date of service repair was moved from Monday to Tuesday. Possibly.
“And is Comcast’s talk of free Internet through Xfinity hotspots a ruse? It doesn’t work for me,” said Frankovich, who added that he has tried connecting to multiple hotspots without success.
Comcast spokeswoman Mindy Kramer said Coral Gables and the Coconut Grove areas are still heavily impacted areas in Miami-Dade and that the huge trees and very thick overgrown vegetation slows efforts.
“We are working on cable lines and nodes that were essentially fried by electrical fires over FPL lines. It’s a complex and difficult restoration process in this area,” she said via email. “In some cases we also have fiber cuts that have been caused by lines coming down, debris removal crews inadvertently cutting our lines, damaged poles, etc.”
In Broward, the Coral Ridge area in Bayview is still without power and needs extensive restoration, including significant tree and debris removal. Poles there need to be replaced before Comcast services can be fully restored, she said. Comcast is also working on pocket outages in Broward in areas where power has been restored but services are out, she said.
AT&T has made “significant progress” in restoring U-verse services for customers in Florida, with more than 80 percent of affected network equipment back in service, said Kelly Starling. She did not respond to specific questions about the South Florida area.
She also said AT&T is deploying additional power equipment to maintain and restore service. “We currently have more than 735 wireline facilities on battery and more than 480 on generators for power,” she said.
Atlantic Broadband CEO Rich Shea said 92 percent or 72,000 Atlantic Broadband customers have had services restored; fewer than 5,000 remain without service.
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