Time Warner Cable's Internet outage hammers small businesses
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Raleigh, N.C. — Time Warner Cable's nationwide Internet outage on Wednesday outraged customers. But perhaps the hardest hit were small businesses that rely on the Internet for their livelihood.
Among those were a 17-year-old entrepreneur running his own business in Wake Forest and a full-time telecommuter in Raleigh seeking to manage business analysts in New York.
While TWC says the network has been restored, 17-year-old Spencer Hart isn't going to forget anytime soon what happened to him. He and a partner run H&H Productions, which is a small event lighting, sound and DJ company.
"We are just getting the company up and going, but I tried to check my email as I always do and I couldn't because I didn't have Wi-Fi (wireless Internet)," Hart told WRAL TechWire, which had asked small business owners to explain how the Internet outage impacted businesses.
"I've always been frustrated by TWC service but they are the best around," he added.
WRAL TechWire coverage of TWC outage:
Hart said he first noticed the outage when he got up Wednesday at 5 a.m., and he still had no access at 6:30 when he left.
While the outage didn't "have any problems much" with his business, Hart said he has learned a big lesson about the risks of relying on only one means of Internet access.
"Now if I need internet and I don't havea home connection, I will use my [wireless] phone's hotspot," he said.
Jen Drake, who recently moved to Raleigh from New Jersey, relies on her Internet connection from TWC to run her business, which is managing a group of information business analysts in New York for a healthcare provider. She said she can't make excuses for not being able to do her job.
"'My cable company is slow today'” is not going to cut it at work," Drake said.
Late Wednesday night, Drake complained via email that net access was still slow - and she couldn't communicate.
"I’m still working on and off tonight to make up for the slow day online," Drake said. "I was completely unable to use my VOIP phone on the work laptop all day. I can’t download or save anything over the VPN. I can’t use my email client about half the time. Excel files won’t open, they time out. Network errors left and right. It’s not looking any better tomorrow since the TWC speed test is running about the same now at this time of night."
VOIP refers to Voice over Internet Protocol telephone service. VPN is a virtual private network, which enables secure remote connections to a business's enterprise network.
Drake said "no one can understand me on VOIP." She also has a landline phone through TWC, which also suffered reduced quality.
She finally resorted to her own workaround.
"At one point I had to shut down both VOIP and the landline and use my Verizon cell phone for conference calls," Drake said.
On Thursday morning, she expects to repeat a routine since she says her TWC problems preceded the national outage.
"The day begins tomorrow with another call to TWC," Drake said, "before the first conference call to NYC."
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