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Comcast internet FAIL: Massive outage mystery [UPDATE]

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Just in time for the news that Northern Illinois' Jerry Kill is the new head football coach at the University of Minnesota, Comcast killed the Internet in Illinois and Minnesota. And in Michigan and Indiana, too.

Update: The company's keeping quiet about exactly what happened, and why.

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The servers translate the URLs we all use into IP addresses. (There's a good explanation of DNS servers here.) We reached Comcast's Mary Beth Schubert this afternoon. She's the company's public affairs VP for Minnesota, Kansas, Missouri and Wisconsin. Schubert only confirmed what has already been widely reported: The outage was due to DNS server failures in Chicago and Detroit.

But she couldn't tell us why it had happened, whether the cause was the same as a similar failure across the Northeast U.S. last weekend, and what was being done to prevent similar outages in the future.

Nothing has changed, then, from the time the Comcast PR folks went into overdrive last night:

Schubert also cited competitive reasons for not telling us the exact number of Comcast Internet customers in Minnesota (or anywhere else), but did volunteer that not all Comcast customers in the state were affected.

Comcast cares. <a href="http://twitter.com/comcastcares" target="_blank">Really</a>.

Comcast cares. Really.

"The root cause is still under investigation," was all she could say, along with offering a healthy apology on behalf of the company.

The outage started between about 8:30 and 9 p.m. Sunday. Service was back online about four hours later. While customers muddled through the outage, serious tech geeks began posting DNS workarounds for those who felt like doing battle.