Culture

An internet outage left much of the East Coast offline for hours

Zoom, Gmail, and Slack, which have taken on even more importance for remote and virtual school work, were down for many.

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The northeastern swath of the United States had some legitimate complaints this morning as far as internet connectivity goes. According to multiple outlets, including the Associated Press and the Washington Post, countless people complained about internet outages stretching from New York City to Virginia and other parts of the region.

Losing your internet connection is already a pain but the COVID-19 pandemic has forced millions to quarantine and work as well as study from their homes, logging in for longer hours than usual. As a result, programs like Slack, Zoom, Gmail, and other services have taken on even more importance for the constantly connected (and fatigued) crowd. As the Washington Post reports, various Twitter users complained about how their access to these programs were either entirely down or bumpy. In response, companies like Verizon confirmed that there had been disruptions in internet connectivity partially due to a fiber being cut in Brooklyn. But it didn't explain why Verizon Fios service was down in other places.

An unexpected halt — Cloud providers, social networks, and other programs were temporarily down on Tuesday morning, including Amazon Web Services, Facebook, and other websites. According to the Associated Press, students were unable to connect to their virtual classrooms in Virginia as a result. During the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual learning has been on the rise but even before that, education and tech sectors have heavily invested in the development of virtual classes and online courses with financial allocations going into billions of American dollars.

Without the internet, however, these educational tools are effectively useless. At the moment, millions of students in the United States rely on tools like video conferencing programs such as Zoom, online learning software, e-tutoring programs, and other services to cover classes during the coronavirus. Beyond classrooms, the outage hit government services in the northeast corridor, according to Associated Press, as well as companies like Fidelity Investments.

The Federal Communications Commission took notice of the Tuesday morning outage and its acting chairwoman, Jessica Rosenworcel, tweeted that the the commission was investigating what exactly led to the disruption. Slack also confirmed that it was aware of the internet service problem on the East Coast while outage tracker, Downdetector, is providing real time confirmation of disrupted as well as resumed services, in case you need more information. We're hoping the issue is resolved smoothly. No one wants a repeat of the CenturyLink fiasco from 2020, especially right now.