Late-night Internet outage affects Michigan college students

Feb 27, 2013

University of Michigan and Michigan State students finally agreed on something late last night: They like the Internet and miss it when it's gone.

A router issue with the statewide network that provides Internet access to Michigan's public universities prevented users from getting online shortly before midnight last night. Service was restored at 4:52 a.m.

Elwood Downing is a vice president with Merit Network, the nonprofit that provides networking for more than 250 organizations across the state. He said a router problem in Chicago caused the entire network to go down.

Packets of information from the Internet were being transmitted to the router, but weren't being forwarded to the network's members. Merit is still trying to figure out what exactly went wrong.

"We know exactly what happened, but we don't know the details of how it escalated to that level," Downing said.

An engineer had to manually transfer the Internet traffic to a backup router.

Downing said college students were mostly the only ones who noticed because few other users were awake and working during the outage.

"The ones that were affected most tend to be the public universities because students would've been trying to get out to the greater Internet if they were on campus after midnight," he said.

Here's how some students reacted on Twitter last night during the outage:

[View the story "Students react to Internet outages" on Storify]

-- Joseph Lichterman, Michigan Radio Newsroom