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Posted on Sun, Dec 5, 2010 : 11:20 p.m.

Widespread Comcast outage, and how to route around it

By Edward Vielmetti


A status report for the Comcast domain name servers shows the Chicago and Detroit servers down on Sunday evening.

Courtesy Steve Tanner

Comcast has suffered an outage, reports Chicago Breaking News, which extends to Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Minnesota. The troubles started at about 8:30 p.m. Eastern time, and are related to the Comcast domain name system (DNS) servers.

This is not the first Comcast outage related to name server issues, reports Engadget, which points to an earlier set of name server outages on the East Coast that affected network users in late November. Similar issues occured in 2005, reported CNET at the time.

If this problem affects you, and somehow you are still able to read this, you can work around the issue by pointing your computer's name servers at alternate hosts. The instructions for Google Public DNS describe how to reconfigure your computer to look up names using the Google servers. If you are affiliated with the University of Michigan, the U of M DNS servers can be used. Other alternatives include OpenDNS, which welcomed a set of new users during the November Comcast outage.

Computerworld's Preston Gralla put together detailed notes on how to work around the Comcast Internet blackout, with screen shots of configuration information for a Linksys router and for Windows Vista.

Edward Vielmetti routes around damage for



Mon, Dec 6, 2010 : 7:47 p.m.

I wish there was a "like" button for posts here, hehe. @julieswhimsies, you may be interested to know that Comcast recently strong armed Netflix into agreeing to pay fees for the huge use of bandwidth associated with Netflix users. Shortly thereafter it was anounced that there will be discussions held about allowing ISPs such as Comcast throttle monthly bandwidth (and raise their rates even more), and charge extra for extra bandwidth. I haven't had Comcast in years, but I hope others will listen, realize there are other options, and boycott Comcast. @ Ed - Did you hear about any of that already? I pretty much skimmed over the main points, but an article outing Comcast for these things would probably be much appreciated by people who don't frequent many other news sources. Not to be a wacky conspiracy theorist; I realize this has happened before, but two major DNS outages within a few weeks of each other during all of this WikiLeaks controversy seems really weird. Please tell me someone else has entertained this thought?


Mon, Dec 6, 2010 : 6:37 p.m.

There have been Comcast outages before. If anyone thinks they'll get a dime from this corporation for losing their service, they are seriously deluded. We switched to DSL last week...a little slower, but much cheaper. We also ditched Comcast Cable TV, and use a laptop connected with the TV for television and use Netflix for movies. Overall, we are saving a ton of money.

Tom Teague

Mon, Dec 6, 2010 : 12:56 p.m.

When the phone lines were swamped and the official site was inaccessible, I used 3G to google "Comcast outage." That led me to several twitter posts. One of those led me to (nothing on there about it now) which led me to ComcastCares tweets from a CC employee who was listening in on the techs' conference bridge as they tried to resolve the problem. To his credit, he handled many snarly tweets with aplomb and good humor and the information he provided was accurate. Comcast should give the guy a couple of days off with pay.


Mon, Dec 6, 2010 : 10:28 a.m.

@Tex - To your first point.... it's very simple. The folks at Comcast don't have even half a clue when it comes to anything resembling customer service.


Mon, Dec 6, 2010 : 10:15 a.m.

I did the same thing Tex... LOL! Several times. Then tried to call and the line was so tied up my call didn't even go through. At that ppint I figured it was a widespread problem and not me (or my computer). I have Comcast for Internet, Cable and Wireless Home Phone service. For the most part I have no complaints about them. I have noticed in the past 6 months or so that there are more random outages - sometimes it's the phone or the computer or the cable - sometimes it's a combination or all three services. BUT they will credit your account for outages if you call them. Thanks for the info for rerouting - it'll come in handy when I need it - and I know I will.

Tex Treeder

Mon, Dec 6, 2010 : 7:42 a.m.

Like so many others, I rebooted my computer, then my router, then my cable modem, all without effect. My calls to Comcast (on my non-Comcast cell phone) were either dropped or unanswered. Funny though, when the automated message said, "Your call cannot be handled at this time," it continued with "but you may contact Comcast on-line." Well, no, I can't. That's why I'm calling. Two points: 1. Why doesn't Comcast adjust its automated message to address this issue and others like it when it occurs? They'd have many fewer irritated customers. 1. I've printed the Google DNS instructions and left a copy near my computer at home, just in case this happens again.

Ryan Munson

Mon, Dec 6, 2010 : 4:37 a.m.

Lets try again: I suspected the same when dig -x brought nothing from Terminal. Unfortunately, I could not look up the alternate name servers. I'll just change it now before the next time it occurs.

Ryan Munson

Mon, Dec 6, 2010 : 4:30 a.m.

I suspected the same when telnet 53 brought nothing from Terminal. Unfortunately, I could not look up the alternate name servers. I'll just change it now before the next time it occurs.

Dora B

Mon, Dec 6, 2010 : 3:59 a.m.

Thanks very much for posting this...I just wish they'd put the info on their outgoing message. Would have saved me a drive to OH to get online & wrap up my work day (& btw, Comcast's connectivity is pretty awful for those of us on the overnight shift anyway). I'm w/Monica, I'll be looking for alternatives as soon as I get back to Detroit.

Greg Peters

Mon, Dec 6, 2010 : 1:12 a.m.

Ed, you are a godsend. Thank you so much for posting this. I was about ready to hit the cable modem with a hammer. I get a bit twitchy when I am involuntarily out of touch with my clients and my work. Your link to the Google Public DNS did the trick. My household is back in touch with the world.


Mon, Dec 6, 2010 : 12:58 a.m.

I tried calling the local Comcast number, busy. I tried calling the 1-800 number, busy. I sat in the live chat for an hour and nobody ever came in. Luckily I used to work for Comcast a few years ago so I contacted one of my old co-workers who told me about the Google DNS workaround so I've been back up for about an hour now. Makes me really angry though, I was studying for my finals this week when I lost my connection and lost about 2 hours trying to get it back.


Mon, Dec 6, 2010 : 12:13 a.m.

thanks! I was looking for something on earlier today while surfing on my phone, was wondering if it was some type of a local outage. The frustrating part is that I was unable to connect to Comcast's tech support and none of the other regions' office wanted to help.


Mon, Dec 6, 2010 : 12:11 a.m.

Thanks for posting this. I was able to access the Google DNS server number via my phone. It is ashame that Comcast has put so many people out of service. The worst part is I had stories that were due tonight and if I was not able to access Medialite on my phone, I would be hit. Time to end Comcast's monopoly in the Southeastern Michigan area IMHO. Brighthouse Cable (out of Livonia) is 100 times better.