Eugenio Marongiu - Fotolia
Verizon has resolved a problem with its Fios fiber optic service that left tens of thousands of East Coast customers without access to online services critical to people working from home during the pandemic.
Customers of AWS, Facebook, Google, Slack, Zoom and many other internet services reported outages on DownDetector starting around 11:30 a.m. EST Tuesday. The Fios outage affected customers from Washington, D.C., to Boston. Service returned around 2 p.m. EST, but there were still customers complaining about a lack of service four hours later.
"An internet issue impacting the quality of our Fios service throughout the Northeast has been resolved, and network performance and service levels have largely returned to normal," Verizon said in a statement.
The outage disrupted the workday of people trying to remain productive at home.
"My virtual classes were slowed down, and I was even kicked off of a Google Meet," said Tasania McPherson, a special education teacher in New York. "It is unfortunate, though, because an outage like this can make or break my workday."
The Verizon Support account responded to complaints on Twitter throughout the day, saying that a fiber cut in Brooklyn was causing problems with Fios in that area. The carrier later said the Brooklyn fiber was not responsible for the larger outage, which was under investigation.
Doug Madory, director of internet analysis at network monitoring firm Kentik, said he found a 12% reduction in service on the national scale. Kentik did not have data specifically for the Northeast, but if the average reduction in service across the nation was that high it means the dip in the Northeast was even greater.
"If there's a dramatic drop in the volume of traffic, that means less use," Madory said.
The outage drew the attention of large internet companies that posted updates on their status pages.
On its AWS status page, Amazon said it was "investigating the issue with the external provider." Slack wrote, "We're aware of and monitoring an internet service issue that could impact East Coast users' internet connection and ability to use Slack. This trouble seems to be isolated to the East Coast of the United States." Amazon and Slack have since marked the issue as resolved.