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Widespread Internet outage resolved
Provider subject of state investigation
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A hardware failure at Windstream's central office in Dahlonega is reportedly to blame for last week's widespread Internet outage in Dawson County.

"The issue was a hardware failure, a switch in Dahlonega which serves Dawsonville failed," said Scott Morris, senior consultant and corporate communications with the Arkansas-based Internet, cable and phone provider.

The malfunction occurred about 1 a.m. Thursday and lasted up to 40 hours for some customers.

"We worked around the clock to determine what the issue was," Morris said. "Once we identified the hardware failure, we flew in a new part from Little Rock to Dahlonega and replaced it Friday afternoon.

"By 4 p.m. Friday, everybody in Dawson County was back in service."

The outage comes on the heels of a recent announcement that the Governor's Office of Consumer Protection has launched an investigation into Windstream for possible consumer violations.

The investigation is in response to consumer complaints that Windstream is advertising broadband capabilities that the company may not be able to deliver at certain usage times.

While Morris said the two issues are unrelated, the outage was a topic of conversation Friday night when Gov. Nathan Deal spoke at the 9th Congressional District Republican banquet in Dawsonville.

According to Deal, Windstream's connectivity issues in rural areas of the state have crept into conversations among his family.

"My youngest daughter and her husband live in Habersham County on our property over there and they're served by Windstream too," Deal said. "So I hear it on a personal level, because they've been out of service as well and they are very dependent on that for what they do. It is a problem."

But Deal said he is not sure to what extent the Governor's Office of Consumer Protection can impact the matter.

"It may involve the Public Service Commission having to become involved as well," he said. "I haven't really walked through the process. I do know that there is a preliminary investigation."

Attempts to reach officials with the consumer protection office were unsuccessful.

According to Morris, Windstream, like other Internet service providers, has experienced "explosive growth" in recent years.

"Windstream has had a 200 percent increase in the last two years, and the number of devices connected to the Internet has grown exponentially," he said. "People are doing more complex things than they did even six years ago, all requiring more bandwidth."
Windstream recently announced a $14 million upgrade its broadband networks in Georgia, with an estimated $600,000 of that going to improve the network in the Dawsonville exchange.

Morris said the upgrades, which are on schedule to be finished by the end of September, will improve network capabilities for about 94 percent of customers in Dawson County.

"We are increasing the capability that feeds Dawsonville by 10 times, creating additional bandwidth," he said. "We do understand that some of our customers have been experiencing speed issues in the Dawsonville area, and we appreciate their patience as we upgrade the network."