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Spectrum outages: average duration & compensation process

The average Spectrum internet outage lasts 12 hours, with a median of 8 hours downtime and a normal range between 4–21 hours. Customer compensation is most common with outages above 24 hours, but is possible for any outage length by accessing courtesy credits. (See instructions below.)

Analysis of 1,107 data points across media, social, and customer surveys found that outages below 21 hours are typically locally isolated; widespread outages are most commonly linked to fiber line breaks, and are more likely to exceed a full day.

outage types Bill credits

Spectrum outage type Average outage length Median outage length Normal outage range
All types 12 hours 8 hours 4–21 hours
Wide area 14 hours 15 hours 5–24 hours
Local area 11 hours 7 hours 4–17 hours

Check outages Reset equipment

Spectrum outages have three main causes: Fiber breaks, cable line disruptions, and software issues.

Among reported cases, most outages (61%) were not assigned a specific cause. Fiber breaks were the second most-common cause of downtime (29%), especially among widespread outages.

Methodology

Statistics generated in this survey are based on reported cases across 1,107 sources including local and national media (33), online forums (98) and social media (976). A full methodology with sample sources is available below.

How long will Spectrum be down? Here’s what the data says.

The 4–21 hour range for outages is based on the 20th to 80th percentile of outage times across events confirmed by local or national media.

Because the majority of outages are caused by fiber cuts or similar infrastructure disruptions, the time it take Spectrum to repair service has a minimum set by the time it takes to identify the cause and conduct fiber repair (splicing) at the site. Outages fixed in under four hours were in all cases tied to either “unknown,” “unreported,” or “software” related causes.

The shortest outage included in our survey tied to a fiber cut was eleven hours; however, some customers in that outage saw service back up as quickly as four hours.1

Outage types

  • Fiber cuts: Incidents where major fiber trunks are severed or damaged, causing widespread outages.
  • Down lines: Incidents where a tree or similar brings down a telephone pole, causing localized outages.
  • Fire or natural disaster: Incidents where fire or a similar natural disastor causes widespread damage to lines, fiber, and other ISP assets in the field.
  • Software issues: Incidents where a software update or issue causes connections to go down. While normally short term and localized, these issues can also cause large national outages. A recent example is the Rogers outage in Canada.2

Wide area outage events

Outages impacting entire cities or regions saw longer overall duration than localized or street-level outages. The 80th percentile wide area outage was 21 hours, with some outlier events lasting as long as two days.

Example of Spectrum outage input data from media sources.
In our source data, wide area outages were typically reported in local and national media.

The median outage duration was significantly higher than localized outages, at 15 hours compared with the 8 hours median across all types and the 7 hour median for localized outages.

Outage typeaverage lengthMedian lengthNormal range
Wide area14 hours15 hours5–24 hours

Localized outage events

Outages impacting localized areas such as neighborhoods or small communities had overall lower duration, in spite of the assumption that they might be treated with less priority.

Localized outages saw service restored in a median seven hours, about half the wait time for outages affecting wide areas.

Example of Spectrum outage input data from social media sources.
Localized Spectrum outages were typically reported via social platforms and resolved prior to garnering media attention.

The 80th percentile duration was 17 hours of downtime; however, the low-end 20th percentile was similar to wide area outages at four hours (only one percentage point difference from the wide area 4.1 metric).

Outage typeaverage lengthMedian lengthNormal range
Local area11 hours7 hours4–17 hours

How to get bill credits

Spectrum is a challenging provider to work with during outages because their residential service terms do not actually guarantee a specific uptime.

This is the main reason business customers pay much higher monthly rates; business contracts typically feature a Service Level Agreement (SLA) with specific promises and recourse in writing.

… Residential service terms state that Spectrum may give credits for qualifying outages, but the terms “may” and “qualifying” render the promise of compensation virtually unenforceable. In particular, qualifying outages are not defined and agents will likely be unable to produce a duration that “qualifies.”

Check your contract and you should see this clause near the bottom (emphasis ours):

All Services are provided on an “AS IS” and “AS AVAILABLE” basis. In no event shall Spectrum be liable for any failure or interruption of Service, including without limitation those failures and interruptions resulting in part or entirely from circumstances beyond Spectrum’s reasonable control. […] Spectrum may give credit with respect to Subscriber’s recurring monthly subscription fee for qualifying outages of Services.

Step 1: Call promptly the day after service is restored.

Spectrum call centers tend to be overwhelmed during outages, especially when they impact a large area.

Direct your call to customer service (855-243-8892) within 1–4 days after the event to avoid multi-hour waits.

Step 2: Refuse refunds under $20 and ask to cancel or reduce your plan.

The standard response you’ll get is either a small “courtesy” credit of $5–10 against your next bill, or refusal on the grounds that the outage was not a qualifying event.

As always, the agent has more discretion here than may be obvious. Remain polite and firm during all calls, since they may have the ability to close your case if you’re rude or unpleasant.

If they don’t budge, you are likely speaking to someone without the ability to grant larger credits. The best way to reach a “retention” agent or similar qualified agent is the request a plan downgrade or cancellation.

Typically, this results in your call being forwarded to an agent whose job is to convince you not to leave — using money if they have to.

Step 3: Request larger refund from retention agent.

$20 is the most common top payout achieved by customers we’ve surveyed. However, credits up to $50 have also been reported.

The amount may differ depending on the severity of the outage, but expect $20–50 as a maximum payout you’ll get, and be willing to accept in this range unless you have multiple days to pursue the cash.

Step 4: Request a courtesy credit if denied.

The last stop if all else fails is to simply use the term “courtesy credit.” Spectrum agents we’ve spoken with have reported that it’s normal to be able to grant one courtesy credit per year to customers as a time-saving mechanism (similar to how upscale grocery store clerks usually have $20 per day or so of “free” items they can give out).

Courtesy credits are generally small; around $5–10 applied to your next bill. The benefit of accepting it is that you will spend less time on the phone. If you have time, however, the best strategy is to simply call back the next day and continue your complaint with new agents.

As covered in our guide to lowering your Spectrum bill, multiple calls are almost always required to get the best outcomes when it comes to bill negotiations.

How to tell if you're in an outage

Spectrum outages are reported to affected customers using the Spectrum mobile app. However, there is often a lage of 30–90 minutes before customers are alerted. The most up-to-date way to get outage information is to go to their outage chat online at the Spectrum outage troubleshooting page.

how to reset wi-fi after an outage

It’s common to find that your Wi-Fi is still down even after a Spectrum outage has been resolved according to the app.

If your Spectrum router is blinking red while you read this, that’s good news. You’re just a few simple reset steps away from having your internet back up.

1. Locate the router reset button on front of router

You’ll find a reset button for your router on the front of the device. It should be the only button on the front of the router.

Do not push any reset buttons on the back of the router, or that require a pin to press. These reset the device firmware, which wipes your network data. You’re looking for a simple restart.

2. Push and hold reset button for 30 seconds

Push and hold for 30 seconds. The lights will flash blue, then within another 30 seconds all lights should be solid blue. This indicates that the internet and Wi-Fi is working again.

3. Unplug all devices for 30 seconds if still disconnected

If the reset button does not work, try unplugging all equipment for at least 30 seconds. This process simulates a reset, and in some cases is more effective.

Methodology

Timelines in this report are measured by conducting open source intelligence against local news, forums, and social media over the past five year period.


Frequently Asked Questions

How long does Spectrum maintenance take?

Planned Spectrum maintenance is commonly done during the 8 hour period between midnight to 8AM, to avoid customer disruption. Daytime maintenance related to issues like fiber breaks and fires is completed within 4–21 hours historically, with an average downtime of 12 hours among reported incidents.

How can I tell if Spectrum internet is down?

Spectrum outages are reported to affected customers using the Spectrum mobile app. However, there is often a lage of 30–90 minutes before customers are alerted. The most up-to-date way to get outage information is to go to their outage chat online at the Spectrum outage troubleshooting page.

How long will Spectrum be down?

The median length of reported Spectrum outages over the past five-year period is eight hours. If downtime repeats throughout the day, the cause is likely customer-level equipment issues rather than a widespread outage.

Page Summary
  • The average length of Spectrum outages recorded over the trailing five-year period was 8 hours.
  • Bill credits are more common with 24+ hour outages in extended areas.
  • Recurring outages at the street level are likely caused by line or software issues.

Author
Jameson Zimmer
Broadband Market Analyst
Author Bio →

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Last Update: October 05, 2022
Published: July 27, 2022
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