Lightning strike causes Comcast outage - WKRN News 2

Lightning strike causes Comcast outage

Posted: Updated: Dec 24, 2013 02:12 AM CST
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FRANKLIN, Tenn. -

Comcast cable officials say a lightning strike to the Williamson County network led to a service outage that affected several thousand customers during severe weather Saturday night.

The outage meant customers could not watch News 2 as Meteorologist Justin Bruce tracked where the storm was headed, letting people know when to take cover.
 
"The sirens were going off and the TV was out, so we couldn't see anything," resident Natalie Hall said, adding, "Actually, [our] weather radio was not working either, so we could not see any of the weather things going on."

Some people turned to the WKRN News 2 app, which allows users to stream weather coverage from their Smartphone or tablet.

"We usually get on the cell phone because we have the Channel 2 app," said resident Mary Driver said who also lost Comcast service during Saturday's storms.

"It is a little unsettling because it is hard to know what is going on," she said." It is really important because both my kids are really fearful of it and we want to be able to reassure them."

The Tennessee Association of Broadcasters said Saturday's severe weather also pointed out a problem for cable subscribers' protection even if they do not lose their cable service.

Cable providers will cover all of their channels with an Emergency Alert System message telling them what kind of severe weather warning has been issued and for what counties.

The TAB told News 2 the problem with that system is the EAS message also covers local weather coverage as the weather event unfolds.

"When those messages interrupt the local coverage, it can put lives in danger," Vice President of TAB Doug Combs said. "I have heard Lisa [Patton] indicate that it is coming to a specific street, so naturally it is important to get people the most relevant information so they can take the appropriate steps."

The action is called forced tuning and it can cause other issues if the cable provider's system does not work properly.

In September, an Amber Alert issued through Comcast froze televisions on C-Span for several minutes when information was needed to help find a missing boy.

At the time Comcast said the company was working on fixing the problem that caused the glitch and a fix would be in place soon.

The company noted that the EAS system did not malfunction on Saturday for customers who did not suffer a cable outage.

The TAB wants cable providers like Comcast to change their EAS system to a selective tuning system so local television channels are not interrupted during severe weather events or other major incidents.

Instead, the cable company could add a small crawl to the screen so local programming can continue.

Combs told News 2 the TAB has been working to convince cable companies to change their current EAS policy for 20 years.

"We are no longer in an age where you have to go with just the black and white screen saying it is an alert," he said.

All Comcast subscribers affected by Saturday's storm should've had their service restored by Monday.

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