Hey, Who Cut My Comcast Line?

Jim can’t prove that a technician working for Verizon cut his cable line. He didn’t see it happen, and the vandal didn’t leave a signature or anything. All the perpetrator left behind was a dug up, severed Comcast cable, some fiber optic cable, and a conduit. Less than a week before, Jim had booked a tentative FiOS installation a month ahead of time, pending the approval of his housemate. Instead, this turned out to be one of those very rare Consumerist stories where the hero is… Comcast.

On July 20th, I gave Verizon FiOS a call to see if they could beat my low Comcast rate of $41.78 per month for 25/5 Internet. I spoke with an account rep and while they couldn’t match it, she did a great job of upselling a 75/35 plan. I told her I would need to discuss the major price increase with my housemate before I committed. However, she said she would schedule a tentative installation for late August just to get me in the system (they required no payment information as the installation was free).

Shortly after, I received a confirmation e-mail showing that I was scheduled for a FiOS installation on August 23rd – plenty of time to figure out finances.

However, on July 25, not five days after my call, I come home to find my back yard dug up and a conduit and fiber optic cable already installed. I gave them credit for the fast install but then I noticed something else. I. Could. Haz. No. Intarwebz. My cable modem lights were off and nothing the Comcast CSR nor I did could get it to work. Note, that on the morning of the 25th, before I left for work and before the apparent installation, I had full Internet access.

Luckily, the CSR, who was very nice, was able to get someone to come out on the 27th and she guaranteed a fix that day. So, one day with out main Internet isn’t bad.

When the Comcast tech arrived (on-time), he did the normal inspection and found that the line had been cut and then reburied right outside my backyard fence. I couldn’t believe it when I saw it (see pic). The technician said that he had seen them do this before and that they aren’t allowed to mess with the Comcast cabling. So, what was Verizon’s master plan? Kill my Internet for at least a month while I decide to maybe have it active in late August? I have never been so shocked by a company’s behavior. While I am sure this isn’t company policy, the behavior is reprehensible.

Comcast was very nice about the ordeal and repaired the line, free of charge, even though it wasn’t Comcast’s fault. I told the tech that I wanted to file a complaint with someone and he said that Comcast would take care of it for me. I hope they do.

So I hope Verizon FiOS knows that they lost a potential customer forever. I will never use their services nor can I recommend them. Destroying my current Internet access was unprofessional and unacceptable. May they burn in the 10th circle of Hell. Comcast, however, has won me over yet again.

Yeah, Verizon installers only get accused of sabotaging their own lines!


Edit Your Comment

  1. The Fake Fake Steve Jobs says:

    How far was the line from the conduit? It’s possible it was an accident – sucks they didn’t try to correct the splice. Perhaps they didn’t see it, didn’t realize it was live, etc.

    Heck, I wouldn’t put it past Comcast to cut their own wire if they knew you were leaving.

    • Overheal says:

      Why would they rebury it then? Look at it, that’s not some accidental blunt force hit-with-a-shovel kind of break, it’s a nice, clean cut. Not with the correct tool by the looks of it, but it was exceptionally deliberate.

      • z4ce says:

        Looks like to me a cut from a trench digger. it was probably never unburied..

        • tinyhands says:

          Agreed, this is anything BUT a nice, clean cut. And no reason to believe it’s deliberate. Negligent != deliberate.

      • rooben says:

        thats not a clean cut at all – look at the right side, that is torn. That looks more like Comcast didn’t label where they ran your drop (I saw this before – Time Warner ran my neighbor’s cable across my front yard, and it was never registered with the utilities), and someone happened to be working in the easement on your property, and happened to cut a line when doing something else.
        Unless an order was actually placed, I’d think that this visit had nothing to do with you calling for availability.

      • icerabbit says:

        You haven’t seen a nice clean cut then.

        That’s a rough cut caused by some piece of digging equipment.

      • SJActress says:

        U-verse did the exact same thing to our Comcast cable a few years ago, except they cut the lines in the attic. We didn’t even know until we dropped U-verse and Comcast wouldn’t work. Comcast came out and showed us the problem.

    • Jawaka says:

      Did they rebury it by accident too?

      • Overheal says:

        well the bunny rabbit and the plate of baby hands thinks it to be a trench digger and that makes sense in the sense it wouldn’t have to be reburied the digger wouldve just tore up the line while it was still underground.

        Still kinda curious about some of these other stories like the guy who had his Dish lines sabotaged by the installer.

    • suezahn says:

      Think about it. How would Comcast have known he was planing on switching? They weren’t notified until after his internet access died. To me this points more toward Verizon as the likely culpret. I’m not saying that makes a whole lot of sense, either, but it’s the timeline that eliminates Comcast.

      • Professor59 says:

        Well, he has Comcast service currently, and therefore has a Comcast email account. If this is his primary email account, then Verizon was using it communicate with him, making the appointment.
        Perhaps Comcast scans emails going by for occurrences of FIOS or Verizon and sends them to a department that deals with this kind of insurrection. They have the ability. Do you think your boss doesn’t read your emails? I know my Network department sure does!

    • kathygnome says:

      Around here, most cable doesn’t have conduit, particularly if it’s older. They just buried it in the ground, often only by a couple of inches, and years if not decades ago. We actually lost all internet at our office when a strand of it came up in the front yard of our building and the groundskeeper ran over it with a lawn mower.

  2. Platypi {Redacted} says:

    Something similar happened when we moved into our current house. The previous owners had Dish, but we scheduled a Comcast install. The house was big, and the Dish install had run cabling to numerous rooms in the house. The installers came while I was at work, and got the Comcast all hooked up. However, when I went out to check the install, they had cut sections out of the Dish wiring. Not just cut their cables, but literally 6 inch chunks out of the cables attached the house. I complained until I was blue in the face, but never really got a satisfactory response. I switched to FIOS at the earliest opportunity. I guess any of these cable guys can be assholes, huh?

    • Lucky225 says:

      Meant to reply to you but ended up replying to Costner somehow, anyways re-paste below:

      Exactly, same thing here, Comcast cut dish cable, leaving about a foot of coax on the dish itself here, and at my parents house, Dish cut the (then) Adelphia cable running, and when they went FIOS, fios cut the DISH cables. I really don’t get the point of this, what if you want FIOS for TV(they have better selection) but comcast for internet or vice-versa or any other 3-way switch, it’s just bullshit. i.e.OP could have had comcast tv and not internet and just wanted fios only internet wtf

      • Lucky225 says:

        Additionally, hope the OP has called and RECORDED THE CALL cancelling any ‘tenative installation’ or we’ll be hearing an update around Aug 30th about how FIOS cut the line again and knocked on his door for the new install.

      • Platypi {Redacted} says:

        Yeah. I should have mentioned, they cut not only the connection to the Dish, but also chunks from the wiring going to the other rooms in the house. They basically made hundreds of feet of cabling stapled to my house useless. I had to rerun cables to connect to the far side of my house.

    • GodfreyOriole says:

      They do this so people do not use the line. Coax cable and splitters for satellite and coax for cable might look the same but cannot be used interchangeably. I had a 3rd party contract install cablevision service and used the dish splitter as the splitter for the house. An actual cablevision technician had to come and install a real splitter because our service wasnt working right.

      I suspect the comcast installers did that so you didnt use it for your service thinking it would work.

      • Tothwolf says:


        There are only a couple types of coax that can’t be used interchangeably.

        Very old RG59 cannot (and should not) be used for much beyond basic CATV service. Copper clad steel core coax (RG59 or RG6) should never be used for satellite/dish (the coax for satellite services has to pass DC voltage for the LNB’s electronics, which steel core coax can’t handle due to increased resistance). Better quality solid copper core quad or tri-shield RG6 can be used for any service. The same goes for higher quality splitters.

        That said, I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen fly-by-night Dish and DirecTV contract installers install systems using copper clad steel core RG6, which results in all sorts of customer complaints. Copper clad steel is a fraction of the cost of solid copper core, so cable TV companies always tend to use copper clad steel unless you make a point of requesting something else. With this in mind, if you see a Dish or DirecTV installer splicing into existing CATV cabling, you can expect to have reliability issues.

        If you want to avoid problems, install and maintain your own customer-side cabling (installing something like a Keptel CableGuard demarc enclosure helps too) and then don’t let any of these companies touch it, period.

      • nugatory says:

        satellite and cable both use 75 Ohm Coax, usually something like RG6. The splitters may work on different frequency ranges, but the cabling is the same.

        • MaxH42 needs an edit button says:

          Besides, the OP was going from Comcast to FIOS, exactly as I did about 5-6 years ago. Verizon did very little inside except check that I had a signal, they just hooked their ATA to my existing coax cable and it worked.

        • soj4life says:

          Coax is coax, but likely the techs swapped out old splitters because they were not high quality and or limited the frequency range.

      • icerabbit says:

        “Coax cable and splitters for satellite and coax for cable might look the same but cannot be used interchangeably.”

        Come again?

        Good quality equipment like RG6 & RG6Q cable and 2 GHz splitters can be used for either.

        • Tothwolf says:

          Maybe the “dish splitter” was actually a multiswitch and not a splitter?

          Connecting CATV to a multiswitch probably wouldn’t work very well at all unless the multiswitch happened to have a special port for CATV service. Many multiswitches have a TV antenna input, so perhaps the 3rd party installer connected CATV service to that port?

          CATV channels in the standard VHF and UHF frequencies (40-860 MHz) would have probably worked, but the higher frequency CATV channels (859.25-1001.75 MHz, ch 135-158) used for digital services would have conflicted with the frequencies used by the Dish service. Upstream communication (on-demand, set top box configuration, etc) probably wouldn’t have worked either, since a multiswitch isn’t designed to pass upstream signals out the TV antenna port.

          This is why you often see two coax cables installed as part of a 2+2 (2 RG6 + 2 Cat5e) configuration in properly planned structured wiring systems. This gives you one coax run which can be used for CATV use (via a splitter or distribution amp) and another run which can be used for satellite and/or local over the air broadcasts with an outdoor antenna connected to a multiswitch.

    • Tothwolf says:

      The existing Dish cabling would have technically been considered customer property, so Comcast had absolutely no right to cut into it (the previous homeowners paid Dish for it, and it was part of the home when you bought it, so it is yours). Given that the Dish coax could have been used for any service (solid copper core), had it been me, I might have been inclined to complain to Comcast that they had damaged my existing Dish service, even if the Dish service wasn’t currently active.

  3. Costner says:

    I sympathize with the OP, but swearing off Verizon FOREVER? What if this was a contractor who messed up and wasn’t even a Verizon employee? How can Verizon address the issue if the OP doesn’t contact them so they have an opportunity to make it right?

    Sometimes mistakes happen and it is possible whoever cut the cable didn’t even know they did it. If they did know – they also must have known they couldn’t get away with it, and honestly when it comes to cable repairing the cable would take much less time than trying to cover it up.

    A customer who doesn’t complain (directly) and give a company a chance to right a wrong really isn’t solving anything.

    • Lucky225 says:

      Exactly, same thing here, Comcast cut dish cable, leaving about a foot of coax on the dish itself here, and at my parents house, Dish cut the (then) Adelphia cable running, and when they went FIOS, fios cut the DISH cables. I really don’t get the point of this, what if you want FIOS for TV(they have better selection) but comcast for internet or vice-versa or any other 3-way switch, it’s just bullshit. i.e.OP could have had comcast tv and not internet and just wanted fios only internet wtf

  4. chefboyardee says:

    If you were the neighbor who two years ago called the local cops on me because my grass was 9″ long because I was on vacation for a week, and the county regulation is 8″, forcing me to pay a $50 fine…it was me, in the dark of night. Sorry.

    • dollym100 says:

      why did you wait two years. You should have been doing it on a weekly basis for those two years.

  5. kathygnome says:

    Upsold from 25/5? I have yet to figure a single reason why anyone would need those levels of speed outside of running a medium size office.

    • Lyn Torden says:

      I’d rather have my downloads take just one hour instead of six hours. 10 minutes would be nicer. I determined years ago that the base-level for service needs to be 100+ for the average consumer (smoothly support 5 separate live video streams and downloads) and 1000+ for geeks (like me). Only one place in the US offers gigabit to the home right now (Chattanooga).

      • NeverLetMeDown2 says:

        5 separate live video streams, in HD, is 19-20Mbps.

        • kathygnome says:

          Ok, fair enough, but how often do people actually need to D/L more than a few live HD streams? Let the kids watch in dvd quality :)

      • NeverLetMeDown2 says:

        If a download at 25Mbps is taking you six hours, that’s a 68GB download. That’s quite a file there.

      • kathygnome says:

        You’re going to need both sides of that though. The only time I really notice my speed is downloading games and from dozens of MMOs to Steam, I can’t think of a single game that’s ever downloaded at more than 2 or 3 mbps, far below my 12mbps speed.

    • BigDragon says:

      I’m looking at 75/35 right now. I have multiple people at home who like to stream Netflix as well as one person with Republic Wireless. Add video games in the mix too. 25/15 just doesn’t cut it anymore. It’s too slow. The faster the better. As the speed increases we find new things to do with it.

  6. kathygnome says:

    Oh and on the OP. Looking at the cable, it looks to me like it was hit with a shovel or something. It might have been the contractor from Verizon and if they noticed it, they should have owned up to it, but I doubt if it was intentional.

  7. Lyn Torden says:

    Assuming the coax was already buried, and the fiber optic was being buried, it could have happened underground. Where are the orange paint marks? I bet that wasn’t even done. So this could very well be an accident with the FiOS ditch-witch machine crossing the coax when they are burying fiber at a slightly lower level.

    Given that coax and fiber tend to be buried shallow, they don’t normally need to get markings done for power, water, and gas, which are required to be buried deeper.

    Comcast had to come up and re-route my cable a few years ago to correct a grounding problem (the original coax was installed to the wrong location by the previous cable company Comcast bought out). I had to trace my own twisted pair to be sure Comcast’s contracted crew didn’t cut that when they ditch-witched the new coax at an angle across my yard. No problems happened and they even upgraded my drop to better quality RG-11 coax instead of the usual RG-6 (because they ran out of RG-6). Verizon, OTOH, refused to come out and correct the grounding on the twisted pair (but I no longer need it for internet access).

  8. cigsm says:

    I’ve actually heard of this from a few friends. They had called to find out about FiOS & had them come out to install & they cut the Comcast line, which they didnt figure out until they got rid of FiOS a short time later & went back to Comcast.

  9. lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

    I vote for squirrels. They can be nasty little critters where cables are involved :)

  10. rev_rend says:

    A Verizon tech did something similar to a company I worked for in Philadelphia years back. We were having problems with our DSL connection and called our provider, Qwest, to have them look into it. The first thing they did was call Verizon because that’s who owned all the lines. Verizon sent out a technician to investigate, called Qwest and said everything was perfectly fine. We responded that our total lack of a connection at that point suggested otherwise.

    Qwest sent over a contract tech, who went down into the bowels of the office tower to check out all the drops with me. We found ours and it had been snipped right through. He said this happened all the time and was Verizon’s way of reminding everyone that even if they didn’t have a monopoly anymore, there would be a lot less hassle if people just stuck with them.

  11. stebu says:

    Another fun FiOS fact. If you are at the end of your contract, you will get SIGNIFICANTLY better deals if you cancel your service then sign up again as a “new” member.

  12. jvanbrecht says:

    Verizon does not run the fiber to your house. They contract it out to a local company. Verizon while still responsible for the acts of their contractors, only connect the fiber to the ONT that they install which breaks out the signal from fiber to coax, or ethernet (if you ask for it and are not getting TV with your package).

    As for the previous comment about cable and satellite cable being different, that, both will function perfectly fine over RG6 or RG7 cable. Satellite should use RG6/UQ as it has more shielding. However, MOCA, which is the standard that is used in FIOS for data over coax, does not care, and will work over either RG6 or RG7.

    Also, as someone else stated, it looks like a cable laying device was used to drop the fiber under the ground without completely destroying the yard, some type of trencher, as the cut was not clean, more like a rip or a shred. Even a shovel would have done a cleaner cut.

  13. chocula78 says:

    I was in the opposite situation where I had Comcast and ordered FIOS. FIOS installed no problemo. Called Comcast to disconnect my service and when they came out to unhook my apartment, they cut the fiber optic line for FIOS. Verizon gave me a free month because they couldn’t get a tech out for week to fix it.

    This is ridiculous though. Some one should file a class action suit against BOTH companies.

  14. drowse says:

    Were there line locates done? I think someone can be liable for the charge here if it wasn’t done. I just had some line locates done at my house so I could dig up some of my irrigation system and Texas has an easy 811 phone system that you can call to have someone come out and verify the lines there. If any company or individual does digging, you’re pretty much required to call in Texas. Glad i called, I almost cut my Verizon line digging myself!

    • jvanbrecht says:

      It’s like there everywhere, have to call Miss Utility (or whatever they call themselves in the various states).

      Digging, and then doing damage, without calling first, can result in some hefty fines, repeated offenses can result in loss of contracting license (that also depends on state/county/etc). They also make you pay for the repairs.

    • kathygnome says:

      Video cable isn’t buried deep enough for that.

  15. celinesci says:

    When we switched from Charter to AT&T for internet, our phone line was also suspiciously severed. Thankfully the technician and AT&T were very nice about it and didn’t even bill us for the 2 weeks of no internet.

  16. sparc says:

    This looks like an accident on the part of the FIOS tech. Since everything is restored and Comcast took care of it for free, no big deal.

    I’m sure there are times when Comcast accidentally cuts Fios lines.

  17. bkeyport says:

    this is why I’m glad we have overhead lines here – for everything but telephone. The two competing cable companies just have to unscrew the line and move it to the other line that runs parallel to each other.

  18. Mxx says:

    I have a hard time believing this story.
    It’s way too rosy for the usual Crapcast experience.
    I sense this is a fake story submitted by their shill.

  19. aen says:

    I can’t imagine that the tech, or even dispatch knew that this guy currently had Comcast and was on the fence. The installation techs don’t get extra business by cutting peoples’ cords. In fact, the tech’s pay would be docked if he caused any damage to existing lines or irrigation.

  20. JenK says:

    I’d be suspicious. I would think that Jim would know if someone had been digging in his neighborhood for any reason. There would be other piles of dirt, or you know, contractor trucks around. He had internet until he called for information. Then he suddenly lost internet and the line was reburied only in that spot? I’d bet Verizon also.

  21. The Great Aussie Evil says:

    From arson to simple vandalism… how the mighty have fallen.

  22. Chill4291 says:

    Wait, this is old news. Verizon has acknowledge cutting copper wires when they install fiber optics. They don’t want you to be able to just switch back. I’m pretty sure they say they are doing it on one of the papers they have the customer sign.
    I guess it wasn’t this site where I learned they were do it.

  23. Tger says:

    Thats a cut from a trenching machine.
    even if you call 811 before you dig, they mark these items here,
    Power, Primary Telco, Gas Main and supply line, Fiber Trunk lines (usually Power, Fiber Trunk, and Coax trunk are run combined in the same trench in new construction) Water Main, Water TO Meter pit.
    Things usually not marked are Coax to house (lack of tracing wire usually, and not required of the guy anyways) Sanitary Sewer (which has locate wire or tape, but has to be speciffically requested to be marked)
    Comcast and related cable company lines other than trunk are not usually marked… nor is invisible fence (which will skew any readings within 5 feet of it if it is on) Irrigation lines, and other later additions.