A collective gasp echoed throughout the ranks of data addicts when multiple networks experienced widespread outages across the United States on Monday morning. Following reports of service interruptions from New York to Los Angeles and San Francisco to Dallas, Time Warner Cable confessed on Twitter, "We appear to be recovering from a large but brief internet outage affecting most of our service areas." A couple hours later, the company's director of digital communications told The Atlantic Wire, "We are up and running, and still investigating the cause and scope of the outage."
However, the problem appears to be more widespread than just the Time Warner Cable network. Users reported similar outages on RCN's and BlackBerry's networks, as well as sluggish page load times on websites and trouble with Twitter. All of the problems coincide with an outage at Level3, a tier one network that makes up part of the backbone of the internet, that could explain the breadth of the problems. To stick with the anatomy analogy, internet service providers (ISPs) like Time Warner Cable and RCN represent appendages that depend on tier one networks like Level3 to operate normally. A well-placed blow could not only cripple a single network but actually kill the entire internet — or at least paralyze it from the neck down — if only for a few moments.