Election Day Robocall Barrage Takes Out Comcast Phone Service In New England

Political robocalls annoy the hell out of just about everyone, but on Election Day Eve this year in New England, things somehow got even worse. A barrage of last-minute automated calls to voters in New Hampshire and part of Massachusetts actually took down Comcast’s phone network. “Between 5:30 pm and 7pm, whenever I tried to call out on Comcast VOIP the phone either would not dial or there would be a message saying all circuits were busy,” writes David, who lives in the affected area. “I know – I should cancel the landline!” Only if the robocallers have your number.

So what happened? A company spokeswoman told the Boston Globe on Monday night, “Comcast is experiencing severe call volumes on the evening before the election due to auto dialing activity that is generating a massive number of inbound political phone calls to our network. As soon as we were made aware of the congestion this was causing, we began to reroute traffic around it.”

In a contest of political robocalls vs. Comcast… there are no winners.

Flood of robocalls disrupts service in Eastern Mass., N.H. [Boston Globe] (Thanks, David!)


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  1. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    david is on the right track there. This is another reason I don’t have a landline. I’ve never gotten a political robocall on my cell phone and I hope to keep it that way. Google Voice has made it entirely unnecessary to give out my real phone number to anyone.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      My coworkers have been complaining of constant political robocalls. They also happen to be an older generation and have land lines. I just have my cellie and have received only a handful of calls.

    • Miss Dev (The Beer Sherpa) says:

      I received 47 political calls in the week before the election. FORTY-SEVEN. I have never missed an election and have been a visible supporter of certain candidates, so there was really no reason for them to be “reminding” me to vote.

      Now, my friends who are not politically active, but are registered with a certain party, and did have questions about the election did not receive a single call. Not one.

      Way to get out the vote – to people who were already going to vote.

  2. HogwartsProfessor says:

    Next time I move, I just won’t register to vote. That’ll take care of those pesky robocalls and annoying jury duty too.


    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      I don’t think I’m a coveted voter! I don’t get robocalls or jury duty. I have received campaign flyers in the mail, but those were few and far between. Come on! I’m in the coveted “young whippersnappers” category – these candidates might not understand me and my loud music, but they should be trying harder to get my vote.

      • nbs2 says:

        Apparently people don’t care about getting-to-know-you candidates. In our local race, the incumbent candidate came by our house twice (we missed him the first time), spoke with us about our concerns and his views. The other sent out mud in the mail.

        The mudslinger won in a race that will probably be recounted (600 vote differential out of 42k cast).

        On the other hand, the incumbent had one of the weakest handshakes I’ve ever handshaken. I felt like Hank Hill circa 2000.

    • webweazel says:

      Some places do not pick people for jury duty from the voting records. Quite a few nowadays choose people from their driver’s license records instead. So, if you choose to be a licensed driver, you have the potential to be picked.

    • laffmakr says:

      Just re-register and give them the phone number of one of the opposite political party’s HQ.

  3. EmanNeercs says:

    People still have home phones…phones that are…connected to their house???

    • ElizabethD says:

      Why yes! And we make our own at home! From wires and plastic we grow in our organic industrial garden!

      Next year we’re taking it down a notch and switching to a network of metal cans connected by strings.


    • kc2idf says:

      Yes. The sound quality and therefore ability to understand the person on the other end is infinitely superior to that of a cell phone.

      • EmanNeercs says:

        That’s one of my favorite parts of a cell phone. Since i loathe talking on the phone, but find it near impossible to have technologically inclined friends w/o one, I always use the ‘bad reception’ excuse to get off the phone.

        • kc2idf says:

          Even when the reception is perfect, the sound quality sucks. It has everything to do with using a codec that runs at 13kb/s at most, often less. By comparison, the VoIP system I use (Ooma) uses about 48kb/s of bandwidth, and has a frequency response of 4kHz when talking to users of other systems; 8kHz when talking to other users of the same system. It sounds fantastic. I think some of the other VoIP systems (Vonage?) are doing similar things.

          I’m an A/V tech, so this is something that bugs me.

    • Daggertrout says:

      People still have homes? I though Bank of America foreclosed everything!

  4. obits3 says:

    If I get a robo call and I am on the fence, that candidate just lost my vote.

  5. ElizabethD says:

    I was still getting robocalls from local candidates as late as 8:30 pm — with the polls closing at 9 pm! WTF. (Love my answering machine.)

  6. webweazel says:

    “I know – I should cancel the landline!”
    I know there’s going to be lots of comments here chastising people about having a landline, but c’mon people, sometimes it works out for people better. It does for us.
    We have a landline, two cell phones, 5 different phone numbers where people can reach us, one of them being a toll-free number where anyone can call us from anywhere in the US for nothing. (we pay the charges at 2.5 cents per minute for long distance, no monthly fees) What do we pay, you ask? About $35-40 on average per month. For ALL of it. Go ahead and beat that price, cell phone only people!

  7. davidsco says:

    The Comcast rep tried to tell me it was affecting ALL services. Funny, nobody on any of the other services had a problem. Comcast should get out of the phone business. They repeatedly show they are not qualified to run a reliable network, no matter WHAT ridiculous name they try and call it

  8. HoJu says:

    Comcast exec #1- “Sir, we’ve lost all phone service in New England!”
    Comcast exec #2- “quick! What can we blame this on?”
    Comcast exec #1- “well, people hate politicians and they’re making a lot of phone right now. Is there any way we can blame this on them?”
    Comcast exec #1- “I’m on it?”

  9. HoJu says:

    Comcast exec #1- “Sir, we’ve lost all phone service in New England!”
    Comcast exec #2- “quick! What can we blame this on?”
    Comcast exec #1- “well, people hate politicians and they’re making a lot of phone right now. Is there any way we can blame this on them?”
    Comcast exec #1- “I’m on it?”

  10. daemonaquila says:

    This is why I don’t have a landline – and more importantly, why I will never, ever use VOIP.

    When I was running a venerable publishing company several years ago, the telcos were falling over themselves to try to get me to change over to VOIP. It’s cheaper! It’s awesome! Well, no, it’s not – for exactly the reasons you’re seeing here. If they can’t provide a stable Internet connection, why would I expect them to provide a stable VOIP connection? That’s when various salespeople would explain that the best way to do VOIP is to keep a standard land line connection, and have the additional company lines all be VOIP, so that if/when an outage occurred the company would still have some phone service. SO WHY DO I NEED THE DAMNED VOIP if I need to keep at least 1 land line anyway (so that customers could get an actual busy signal as they all jammed onto it)?

    • AllanG54 says:

      Well, you’re wrong. I have VOIP in my business and if the internet connection goes down I can have my calls forwarded to my cell phone. Not a big deal. In five years the connection went out twice, once because some construction crew cut through the cable a half mile away. When I had Verizon phone one of my lines went out nearly every month because some jerkweed tech who had to do something on the pole disconnected my line. By the way…my bills went from $300/mo down to $155 for three lines and internet.

  11. Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ゜-゜ノ) says:

    The Democrats have better robo-dialing technology than the Republicans. I have a land line for emergency use (fairly cheap and real 911 service) but I put a full 60 second voicemail message of a Numbers Station broadcast for entertainment purposes. The Democrat one actually sat and waited for the beep before bleating out their sales pitch, while the Republican message just had the end of a sentence “…America.”

  12. Phil Villakeepinitrreal says:

    Phone Braver 7! Good photo pick!

  13. Cheap Sniveler: Sponsored by JustAnswer.comâ„¢ says:

    Of course, politicians exempted themselves from all the “do not call” legislation… Why would we expect anything else from our fine representatives?

  14. markrubi says:

    I have noticed these robo calls seize the phone line. If you hang up then go to call someone the recording can still be heard. At least on my AT&T line. Anyone else notice this on their lines regardless of carrier? What if I needed to call 911 and had to wait 60 seconds until the robo recording was done? I pay for my phone line to be available when I need it. It’s not there for someone to hold it hostage with a recording. Why do they think playing a recording is going to make me vote for them?

    • yurei avalon says:

      Yes, this has happens to us at my grandparent’s house on their land line and it ticks me off so much! They are elderly, they need to be able to dial 911 dangit, not listen to your people telling them to go vote, when they already have gone and voted as soon as the polls open.

  15. ellemdee says:

    My parents have WOW VOIP (ported from an old landline) and they got nonstop robo calls all day yesterday, at least a dozen by noon.

  16. Big Mama Pain says:

    When are candidates going to realize that robocalls annoy the shit out of people and stop using them? I got several get-out-the-vote texts for a candidate that I signed up to receive notices for, and I love that. Easy to ignore or useful if you needed the reminder; either way, it’s not nearly as intrusive.

  17. Matzoh Heppelwhite says:

    Fiendish politicians completely jammed Comcast phone lines in New Hampshire with a gaggle of simultaneous robocalls.
    This shows how our marginal telephone systems could cripple us in an emergency.
    I hope there’s an investigation.