Time Warner Cable says a problem that occurred during routine maintenance caused a nationwide outage of its Internet service for hours on Wednesday morning.
The company says it is still investigating the cause of the problem, which occurred with its Internet backbone, the paths that local or regional networks connect to in order to carry data long distances.
The company says the problem affected all of its markets and started at 4:30 a.m. and was largely restored by 6 a.m., and updates continue to bring all customers back online. The outage sparked widespread complaints on social networks.
Time Warner Cable, which is being acquired by rival cable company Comcast, has about 11 million subscribers nationwide.
It's the second bit of outage trouble that the country's second-largest cable TV and Internet provider has faced this week. Tuesday, Time Warner Cable agreed to pay $1.1 million to resolve a Federal Communications Commission investigation that last year found the cable and Internet provider did not properly report multiple network outages, the regulators said this week, according to Reuters.
"TWC (Time Warner Cable) failed to file a substantial number of reports with respect to a series of reportable wireline and Voice over Internet Protocol network outages," the FCC said in a report revealing the settlement released on Monday. "TWC admits that its failure to timely file the required network outage reports violated the Commission's rules."
The FCC requires providers of fixed Internet connection or voice-over-Internet-Protocol calling to promptly report some network outages that last 30 minutes or longer, for instance those that potentially affect emergency response 911 facilities or those that impact enough consumers to collectively result in at least 900,000 minutes of disrupted Internet or phone use.
After the prompt initial notification of the outage, the providers then have to follow up in some cases with an initial report but always with a final report within 30 days of discovering the outage.
Prompt access to information about how national telecom networks are working is critical to prevent or prepare for disruptions that could pose threats to homeland security, public safety or the U.S. economic stability, the FCC says.
The agency's staff in September 2013 warned Time Warner Cable that it failed to file the final report on one outage, though it had filed a timely initial notification.
Investigating further, the FCC found that the company "had failed to file a substantial number of Initial Reports and/or Final Reports with respect to a series of reportable wireline and VoIP network outages for which TWC had timely filed the required Notifications," the regulators said in this week's order.
Time Warner Cable submitted all missing reports by November 8, 2013, the FCC said.
After Time Warner Cable admitted that it violated the requirements for network reporting, the FCC's Enforcement Bureau and the company agreed to settle with the monetary civil penalty and a three-year compliance plan to properly report all network outages in the future, the FCC said.
"We look forward to working with the FCC to ensure that its reporting rules are properly implemented and followed," a Time Warner Cable spokesman said in a statement on Tuesday.