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Widespread internet outage leads to frustration, questions on Tiburon Peninsula

A widespread internet, phone and cable outage that struck the Tiburon Peninsula Nov. 8 left residents lamenting their loss of service, scratching their heads about what triggered the blackout and questioning the vulnerability of Marin’s communications systems.

Tiburon town officials said the midday outage was caused by a traffic collision near Highway 101 and affected customers of Comcast’s Xfinity network and AT&T, with service expected to be restored by 5 p.m. But as the day progressed — and the target hour for restored service passed — a string of massive Comcast outages began to spring up across Marin and the rest of the Bay Area about 9:40 p.m., ultimately hitting tens of thousands of customers between Santa Cruz and Sacramento. Large outages continued across the U.S. throughout the evening, hitting Atlanta, Chicago, Philadelphia and New Jersey.

As Comcast internet went out, people turned to their cell services’ data plans to get online, attempting to use it for anything from simple browsing to video streaming to a hotspot for their other devices during the workday. But that immediately crippled cellular networks on the Tiburon Peninsula, slowing even basic browsing to a crawl and raising questions about the ability to communicate, or even call for help, during an outage — let alone during a disaster.

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