As the first round of elementary schools connects to the network by January, their internet service will be able to reach speeds about 40 times faster than before. Credit: Pexels

CHICAGO — People across Chicago — and all around the United States — reported their Comcast Xfinity-backed internet going out Tuesday morning, causing a morning scramble to get online.

Some in Chicago reported having internet issues as early as around midnight, but reports of a mass outage started about 7:30 a.m. Central. Some people reported their internet returning after 8 a.m., but others continued to have spotty or nonexistent service for several hours.

Chicago wasn’t the only part of the country suffering internet headaches. Widespread outages were reported in Indiana, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and New Jersey. The Bay Area also saw an hours-long mass outage Monday night.

Hours after the mass outage, Comcast acknowledged the problem, tweeting it was the result of an unspecified “network issue” that was being investigated. The company apologized and said “service is now restoring for impacted customers.”

People with other providers continued to have access to the internet.

Comcast’s outage came as many people continue to rely on internet to work or learn from home during the pandemic.

Nicolai Naranjo, who works in property management, rushed to a Dollop coffee shop at 345 E. Ohio St. to use its internet for work. The cafe was bustling with people grabbing coffee and using the internet.

“I rebooted my router and nothing. And that’s all I know in terms of technology, so I rushed here,” Naranjo said. “Thankfully, the internet is working here, but it disrupted my working morning. We all rely on the internet and it was quite disrupting.”

Representatives from the city’s Police Department and Office of Emergency Management and Communications said they had not been affected by the outage. The CTA also said it was fine.

But some agencies did experience hiccups. Metra wasn’t able to make PA announcements about delayed trains, though the trains themselves ran fine, a spokesperson said. In an email, Ald. Andre Vasquez (40th) said his office’s phones were going straight to voicemail due to the outage. Some schools also experienced issues.

“Chicago Public Schools strives to ensure students have access to high-quality internet services and is aware that some of our schools were impacted by this morning’s Comcast outage that is now over,” a CPS spokesman said in a statement. “Internet and phone services will be restored, according to Comcast Xfinity officials.”

Many Chicagoans took to social media to share their frustration over the outage, with many also saying they were unable to reach customer support workers when trying to call Comcast. The company’s outage map, which shows outages across the country, also appeared to be down.

“I’m not surprised it’s out,” said Felipe Fisher, of Edgewater. Fisher is an editor at an insurance broker and took to a Collectivo Coffee, 5425 N. Clark St., to use the internet. “I am surprised it’s going on this long and is this widespread.”

A barista there, Zoe D’Amato, said the cafe was busier than usual and they’d gotten five calls asking if they had internet. A row of tables was filled by people using their laptops. Several people were on Zoom calls and many had their email open.

Madison Meero, a K-12 theater teacher at a virtual charter school, normally works from home — but woke up this morning and realized she didn’t have internet. She headed to the Collectivo cafe so she could work.

But once Meero got to the cafe, she realized she didn’t have the headphones she needed and she had to buy a pair from a nearby Walgreens. Meero, who was teaching a kindergarten and first grade theater class, then used Zoom to work with the kids.

“It’s been a little chaotic,” Meero said. But “it’s online school, so all of the students understand wifi issues.”

And at least a few people didn’t mind the outage.

One North Sider who has worked from home for years told his employers when his internet went down in the morning. He had a morning full of meetings lined up and didn’t go to them — even when his internet returned.

“I was gonna take a nap, but, actually, I took my dog for a walk,” he said. “I think maybe I am gonna watch my recording of John Oliver pretty soon.

“Personally, I’m relieved the internet’s down and it’s a story that was posted on news blogs and everybody knew about it. I’m always glad for a break from it. Everybody, at least in my line of work, they treat every meeting like it’s the end all, be all of existence — but in the end, most of them are just mildly necessary, I guess. It’s good to get away from them.”

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