Cable Assesses Charley Damage

Cable operators are scrambling to assess the damage to their Florida systems and restore service to thousands of customers in the wake of Hurricane Charley. Operators estimated that the hurricane cut electricity to 500,000 customers. Until that’s restored, its impossible to tell how many people’s cable service is out, as well.

Comcast serves the areas that were the hardest hit, including Punta Gorda and Sanibel Island. The company’s headend in Port Charlotte was battered, by the storm, with about half a dozen giant satellite dishes damaged, including some that were twisted off their bases.

Comcast says 150,000 customers have no power in its areas. Regional VP Steve Dvoskin says that technicians are walking the plant as much as possible, cataloging fallen fiber and coax so Comcast knows where to begin when power is restored. "There are so many poles down, snapped off either at the base or halfway up the poles, that we have to wait until the utility companies put up replacements."

Repair work has started in Naples, which wasn’t damaged that badly, but emergency workers are preventing Comcast crews from entering the worst-damaged areas, like Sanibel Island.

Bright House Cable and Time Warner Cable said they suffered no severe headend damage and were still trying figure out what shape their systems are in.

Typically, thousands of “drops” from poles to subscribers’ houses, will blow loose in a hurricane. The worst damage is typically underground fiber trunks ripped up by trees uprooted in the winds.