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Global internet outages continue to climb in 2021, up 142% since early January

This weekly feature from S&P Global Market Intelligence, in collaboration with internet-service monitoring company ThousandEyes, aims to give remote workers insights into internet service disruptions.

Global internet outages continued to rise in the last week of January, with 300 in total, marking the third consecutive week of increased network disruptions, according to data from ThousandEyes, a network-monitoring service owned by Cisco Systems Inc.

The number of global internet outages in the last week was up 142% from the 124 detected by ThousandEyes in the first week of January. The U.S. alone accounted for 48% of the global total last week, with 145 disruptions, which marked the fourth consecutive week of increased outages in the domestic market.

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The number of outages among cloud-based collaboration apps, such as Zoom Video Communications Inc.'s video conferencing service or Microsoft Corp.'s Teams, also rose sharply in percentage terms last week, though the total number of outages remained small.

ThousandEyes identified 7 outages among collaboration apps worldwide, up from 2 outages the week before. U.S.-based collaboration app outages rose from 1 to 2.

But the big story of last week involved major outages at two big U.S. internet service providers on Jan. 26, one of which impacted work-from-home employees and remote students in the middle of the business day.

Due to the timing of the first incident — a 24-minute outage that began about 12 a.m. ET in portions of the Comcast Corp. network near Newark, NJ and later spread to nodes in New York City — it drew far less attention. The Comcast outage, which was cleared at about 12:25 a.m. ET, affected access to the networks of Comcast customers including Amazon, Bloomberg and CBS, according to ThousandEyes.

Later that day, thousands of internet customers took to Twitter, Downdetector and other sites to complain about disruptions to internet apps and services due to a Verizon Communications Inc. outage that began at 11:30 a.m. ET and spread quickly down the East Coast.

The cause, according to data from ThousandEyes, was a series of outages at Verizon network nodes across the U.S., especially those connecting the service provider's backbone with branches that spread out to connect states or larger geographic regions of the country. Verizon's network services began to stabilize around 12:30 p.m. ET.

The proportion of global outages occurring during business hours increased to 44% last week, compared to 39% the week before. In the EMEA region, 53% of all outages occurred during business hours, compared with just 31% in the Asia-Pacific region.

Of all U.S. outages, 47% occurred within local business hours last week, a 13% increase from the previous week.

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