By Gina Martinez
Queens Borough President Melinda Katz criticized internet service provider Spectrum after multiple Queens neighborhoods were left without service or answers Monday.
The outage, which was allegedly caused by vandals, left 60,000 Spectrum customers without internet or phone service.
Katz tweeted that according to Spectrum, at 2 a.m. Monday, vandals cut fiber optic cable at four major hubs, shutting down service for 60,000 customers in parts of western Queens. Katz released a statement Tuesday afternoon condemning the cable company for not informing customers sooner.
“Spectrum neglected to properly inform tens of thousands of their customers about this massive outage until 12 hours after it began,” she said. “The lack of timely information from Spectrum on the initial outage, and residual outages post-restoration, is unacceptable.”
Spectrum’s cable technicians went on strike in March after operating without a contract since 2013.
According to Katz, Spectrum’s partial refund of a few dollars offered to customers only added insult to injury, considering the “extreme inconvenience and disruptions” caused by the outage.
“Besides the obvious question of how to make customers whole, two more important questions remain, to which we still await answers,” she said. “How will Spectrum prevent such an outage in the future, and how does Spectrum plan to better communicate about such outages with its customers?”
A Spectrum spokesman confirmed it was vandalism that caused the outage, but said the company had been in communication with customers from the moment they detected the outage. The spokesman also said Spectrum had crews dedicated to restoring services all day Monday and that there was full restoration by the end of the night. Spectrum notified the NYPD, since tampering with telecom cables is a criminal offense that puts residents’ lives in danger, the spokesman said.
The outage comes a week after IBEW Local 3 union members were joined by City Councilman Rory Lancman (D-Hillcrest) and other elected officials in front of a Charter Communications location in Fresh Meadows to denounce the company’s use of out-of-state contractors to fill in for striking workers. IBEW Local 3 represents 1,800 cable technicians who work for Charter, which merged with TimeWarner cable, the parent of NY 1, in 2016. Spectrum is Charter’s brand name for cable operations in the city.
According to union workers, Charter proposed cutting workers’ health care and pension benefits, which led to the strike.
At press time, police were still investigating who was behind the vandalism Monday.
Reach Gina Martinez by e-mail at gmart