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What Are the Common Causes of Internet Outages?

Jul 14, 2019

Fiber and Ethernet cables going into communications equipment.

Question: What is the most common cause of Internet outages?


Answer: Great question. This answer will come from the perspective of the service provider. When outages occur, it's the responsibility of the provider to report an outage affecting their customers.


I typically do this in plain English to set the expectations. The more details and communication provided during this time, the better customers understand.


Now these common Internet outages will vary depending on how an area is setup to receive Internet service. But there's a few common causes that come to mind:

  • Human error. Sometimes the people working to keep these systems up will inadvertently cause them to go down. No one wants to be blamed for this so you often don't hear this admission come directly from your Internet Service Provider (ISP).


  • Physical cable disconnect/damage. This type of outage comes in all forms. Ranging from weather damaging underground or aerial cables to cables being cut during construction activities.


  • Other technology failures. The final section is reserved for the other miscellaneous technology activities that cause outages. This includes failed software updates, unstable equipment, and incompatible hardware.


Depending on your location, you may find that outages may occur more frequently in one area compared to other (hopefully less in the human error section).


The next time an Internet outages occurs, ask what caused the issue to be resolved. Then see if it fits in one of above mentioned categories.