SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- AT&T Inc. customers in the Southeast United States were unable to connect to the Internet through their DSL service for several hours Monday night because of an equipment problem, a company spokesman said.
Michael Coe, a spokesman for the San Antonio-based telecommunications company, said the digital subscriber line service was restored about 10 p.m. CST. He said the outage affected customers in Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky and Tennessee.
"The root cause of the disruption is still being investigated but appears to be an equipment impairment," Coe said in a statement.
Dave Burstein, editor of the industry newsletter DSL Prime, said broadband outages are not unusual.
"Broadband goes down much more often than telephone lines because they didn't build the system for the same level of reliability," Burstein said. "We do not know how often it happens, however, because they're not obligated to report it."
At the Internet forum DSLreports.com, people in several of the affected states posted reports of problems Monday night. Many said it appeared to be an issue with AT&T's domain name servers, which help direct Internet traffic to its destinations.
Every computer connected to the Internet is identified by a series of four numbers known as an Internet Protocol address, such as "126.96.36.199." Domain names allow Internet users to type in something like "ap.org" instead of the string of numbers to navigate to a Web site or send an e-mail. Domain name servers match the name to the equivalent numeric address.
Several users at DSLreports.com said they were able to access the Internet during the outage by changing settings so that their computers would use alternate domain name servers.
Burstein said an entire territory can be affected by a single point of failure, such as a disrupted domain name server, when the network doesn't have a backup for the server.