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Com Hem under fire for major power outage

TT/The Local · 6 May 2009, 10:28

Published: 06 May 2009 10:28 GMT+02:00

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Football fans all over Sweden settling down to watch the semi final of the European Champions League were among the first to notice the downtime as they came face to face with a blank screen as kick-off loomed.

PTS said it would begin its investigation on Wednesday by requesting information from Com Hem as to what had caused the outage.

"This was an outage that affected 800,000 subscribers in all, so we view it as a serious incident that we need to investigate," said Christoffer Karsberg, head of the agency's network security department, to news agency TT.

The most serious aspect concerned the IP telephony outage and a lack of access to the emergency services number, 112.

"We're now beginning our inspection and will find out what happened: how Com Hem resolved the incident, how the 112 service was affected and, above all, how they can ensure that there won't be any similar incidents in the future," said Karsberg.

The Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (Myndigheten för samhällsskydd och beredskap - MBS) also viewed Tuesday evening's developments with a degree of concern.

"It's worrying that more and more services are tied to a single cable as it makes us more vulnerable, and we have probably only seen the beginning of this development," said security analyst Svante Nygren.

Recent developments have meant that telecom outages are now a security issue affecting society as a whole, he added.

"A telecom outage today is not the same as telecom outage 10 or 20 years ago, as now internet and media distribution are also affected, as are the possibilities of contacting the police, rescue services and ambulances," said Nygren.

Com Hem said the central facility used to distribute the company's services was hit by a blackout at 8pm.

By 10pm, Manchester United and Arsenal's players had finally returned to all the living rooms of Sweden.

Story continues below…

"Our broadband and IP telephony services have been working since 11pm," said Com Hem spokeswoman Maria Stråhle.

Com Hem CEO Tomas Franzén admitted it was unacceptable that a single power cut could wipe out the company's nationwide services, adding that the company would now take time to review its security provisions.

"We need a chance to investigate the situation. We have put all our energies so far into getting the services back up and running, that has been our top priority," he told Sveriges Television.

TT/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

12:48 May 6, 2009 by EtoileBrilliant
Com Hem are a bunch of shysters. Our apartment building is wired for them and we have nothing but trouble on phone, TV and Internet.

The PTS ought to oblige all Internet providers to publish AUDITED statistics on their "downtimes".

Then we users can make an informed choice.
13:46 May 6, 2009 by stupr
"The first semi final...." In fact it was the third.

This is the first time I have had any problems with Com Hem, however am shocked to learn that so many people were affected and that people were unable to contact 112.

It would be interesting to find out if anyone needed to call the emergency services during that period, and what happened as a result?
17:19 May 6, 2009 by Tradebay
I've been with Comhem for about 2 years and has been a good ride. Last night was the 1st problem I've had with them in 2 years.

I still say anything is better than Telia though.
20:31 May 6, 2009 by Englishteacher
buy candles and wait em out
21:34 May 6, 2009 by missscarlet
There fine service they sell is crap and trying to be able to reach anyone who knows what is going on when things go wrong is a joke. There answer to every problem is we will send you a new box and cables to fix it! At one point we had 4 different service people in our home to tell us the problem was on there end not ours. The worst part was the phone was out and it cost my husband a job! In the end they called someone else. Com hem has never even tried to make restitution with us or even hear us out! We contacted a service to check into this and they also told Com Hem they needed to make compansation with us but, no they just refused to do any such thing. Pretty bad for a company who spends millions on advertising on TV, news papers, and radio, to not give us the time of day! We have been trying for sometime now to get someone to listen to our case and secure some kind of help with them but never got anyone to want to take on Com Hem because their too big they claim.
00:43 May 7, 2009 by Bender B Rodriquez
08:52 May 7, 2009 by Markbase with an Invisible Q
Wow, that's a bummer, missscarlet.

I've been with ComHem for about four years myself, and have had no major problems (apart from the other night). And if/when I'd had any minor issues (about twice?), they were solved in a helpful, speedy and efficient way - and in English!

This is a weird one; some people think they're really bad, but some of us think they're actually quite good. There definitely seems to be a lack of consistency in their customer service anyway...
09:38 May 7, 2009 by PageyGB
09:40 May 7, 2009 by Markbase with an Invisible Q
Their they're.

Be calm.

09:49 May 7, 2009 by PageyGB
To get back on topic.

I thought Canal Digital were terrible when I had them. We had 3 different boxes and 5 different cards before it actually worked. (REALLY old boxes too from 1998).

When we moved to our new place I was Happy to get the Comhem equipment but we've had trouble with that too. Subtitles didn't work for many channels and it took another 3 boxes to sort that out.

Typically Canal Digital now give out state of the art boxes. Typical.

Comhem seems to be a lot more expensive too. Used to have all the football and Canal Movie Channels for less than I have a much smaller package now.
10:06 May 7, 2009 by djmarko
bit strange though, had Com hem for 2 years and have never experienced anytrhing like this, as a man united fan, i was looking forward to the game, next thing the internet and Tv went dead, tried to call Comhem, that was dead as well, was quite lucky Kingstown in Söder were showing the match on some analog equipment so saw the game

one question though?? are there any far east betting syndicates in Stockholm?? seems rather strange!!
10:21 May 7, 2009 by Beef
Maybe should be a seperate thread but here goes. Is there a good alternative to COMHEM?

I can't stand them and their service is so far behind the UK for example.. ie. HD PVR just come out and they are charging a fortune for it., still no picture in picture when using menus/guides etc.. No On Demand. I could go one..

What is the competition, if any, oneone provide better services? I used to get a load of flyers from Bredbandsbolaget but never read them, for example...
11:14 May 7, 2009 by Jasoncarter
There's not a lot of choice in the Swedish market at all. It's all much of a muchness. Your best bet is to either get a satellite set up to pick up UK TV (wider selection of channels for a start) or to get a VPN connection.

The best thing I've done is subscribe to a VPN - the picture quality/compression on BBC iPlayer when viewed on my 40" telly is better than the majprity of channels crammed into Boxer's miniscule bandwith. Plus you can watch HD stuff over it now. The best 80kr a month I've spent ever.
11:30 May 7, 2009 by VikingHumpingWitch
I switched from ComHem to Bredbandsbolaget and it was like that Carpenters song, you know, birds suddenly leapt from the trees and started singing, the sun came out, generally the world was immediately a completely better place. I calculated that in the three months I had ComHem for Internet, I spent over 10 hours holding on the phone for assistance. I also had two modems and three cables sent out, and when none of that worked they tried to claim it must be a bug in Microsoft that nobody else in Sweden (or indeed the world) had ever had before, but I had it.

I've ranted at great length previously about this so I won't go on again.
12:28 May 7, 2009 by Ned Smitty
I guess there are good and bad experiences about every provider. I made the opposite switch as VHW, from Bredbandsbolaget to ComHem for similar reasons. My connection with BBB was instable needing the modem restarted on a daily basis, not to mention the service just contantly got slower and slower. At the beginning it was 14Mb and over 3 months it dropped to 7Mb (that's when it worked). Solution from BBB support, buy the 8Mb service instead. I cancelled after 3 months switched to Comhem and got the speed and stability that I paid for. This weeks glitch was the first I've had.

One thing for sure is that support you tend to get from any of them on the phone is from some pimple faced youth that's worse than useless. Support tends to be reboot the modem, reboot the machine, or try again later.

Another point, anyone that relies on VoIP as their only option to call 112 is taking a risk. Network faults aside, it won't work in localized power cuts unless you have a modem with a battery power backup or some sort of UPS, and very few have that.

Scenario: Dropping a toaster into the bath, trips the electricity... VoIP phones dead... Much like the person in the bath.

If you have VoIP you really need at least a mobile phone as backup.
15:53 May 7, 2009 by Beef
Hi! I have VPNUK but the quality varies where I am (probably because it is sitting on top of Comhem's broadband

Which VPN service do you use? Is it stable?
16:16 May 7, 2009 by Jasoncarter
I'm also with them, and yes it is. It has been on Glocalnet, and we've just switched to Telia and it's just as good there. Certainly got no complaints and costs less than Boxer charge for their spectacularly poor service.
16:36 May 7, 2009 by VikingHumpingWitch
Regards quality of service, I've had Bredbandsbolaget for nearly 2 years and so far it's only been down once for a couple of hours. And they have a thing where they'll call you back if you don't want to hold. I like them.
23:36 May 8, 2009 by Swedish Meatbulls
On the very same day Comhem send out a letter telling us that they no longer will be providing an analog service in the future because of out dated technology.

What happens?

We were saved from missing the match by what service?

Yes a good old fashion analog TV signal.

But instead they want us now to pay out an extra 99kr for a 2nd card and the price of a new box so we can watch Tv in another room.

Plus the free box and card that we were offered when we subscribed to digital is now no longer free.

That like buying a new car with all the extras and then getting a letter from the car dealers a few years later saying they now want you to pay a yearly subscription for the radio and CD player provided with your car…

Two Words for it: RIPE OFF!!
00:05 May 9, 2009 by Ned Smitty
I cancelled my digital TV with Com Hem basically for the reason they just kept bumping up the price and the so called digital decoder card fee was the final nail in the coffin for me with them. Although you can use a card sharer system with the Com Hem digital tv that will share a digital card with about 5 decoders placed on other TVs in your home, (although only 1 can be HD) I used to use that in my apartment when I had the digital tv and it worked a treat.

Their internet connect has been fine for me, apart from the other disaster day.

But one thing to keep in mind with Com Hem for those that dabble in file sharing/PirateBay. Com Hem WILL be saving this information that can identify a user to an IP address, saying that it is to safe guard their customers incase their computers are hijacked by a trojan etc and also naturally if the information is needed for other unlawful purposes eg child porn. Which is no bad thing... But they do say that if the information is requested with respect to the Ipred law, they will contest any request for such info.

(Com Hem) Information om nya Ipred-lagen
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