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Ninestar crashes, customers affected across the county

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HANCOCK COUNTY — A faulty router at NineStar Connect’s Maxwell facility off Ind. 9 took all of its Internet, cable television and phone service offline for approximately two hours Friday afternoon.

The outage affected the company’s entire network, which numbers in the thousands of customers. That included offices in the Hancock County Courthouse and an untold number of businesses and residential customers.

The outage began about 12:30 p.m. Friday, when the company’s main router to the Internet “fluttered,” or switched on and off repeatedly, said Michael Burrow, NineStar’s vice president and general counsel.

 “Had (the router) just failed, NineStar’s redundant devices would have taken over and service would not have been lost,” Burrow said in a statement.

“Because it fluttered, the fail-over systems did not sense a failure and did not take over for the malfunctioning router,” Burrow wrote.

Christa Riggs, the co-operative’s marketing coordinator, said technicians had to replace a “hardware chassis” whose failure cut off service.

 “We’re trying to do what we can to get it up and running as fast as we can,” she said.

By 2:15 p.m., service was beginning to return intermittently depending on where in the county customers were located, Riggs said. Some posters on NineStar’s Facebook page, however, said as late as 4:30 p.m. that they were still waiting for service to be restored.

NineStar Connect’s telecom service area includes mostly rural areas in all or parts of Buck Creek, Vernon, Center, Green, Brown and Jackson townships, according to a map on the co-operative’s website.

As customers called NineStar‘s offices to check on their service, most were being patient with the disruption, Riggs said.

 “Most people are understanding,” Riggs said. “There have been some negative comments on Facebook, and I understand that.”

Just before 4 p.m. Friday, Hancock County Courthouse employees were still waiting for Internet and phone service to return, but most said the crash did not significantly affect their work.

“It hasn’t been too bad,” said Andy Saunders at the Hancock County assessor’s office. “We’ve been able to do our official work because our system is not on the Internet, but we have no email or phones.”

Similarly, the county planning and building department was able to perform some work without Internet access, but there was some fallout from the outage: No building inspections were being scheduled Friday for next week, said Debbie Hooten, building department clerk.

“We can get to our permit manager (program), but nobody is setting any building inspections for Monday. Everything came to a screeching halt,” she said.

“It’s been kind of eerie,” said Hancock County Auditor Robin Lowder of the lack of ringing telephones in the office.

Lowder said her office was able to function adequately Friday afternoon – unless employees had to contact someone.

“We’re still getting a lot of other work done,” Lowder said.

For National Road Insurance in Greenfield, however, the Internet crash effectively took the office offline for the afternoon.

“We can’t do anything,” said company president Rob Young, whose office is on the courthouse square. “It’s like going back to the old days.”

With most of his office’s business conducted via email and online, Young said about all that could be done was write out receipts by hand when customers came in to pay a bill.

“It’s frustrating, but what are you going to do?” Young said. “These things happen.”

NineStar Connect was created in 2011 from a merger between Hancock Telecom and Central Indiana Power. It has 14,000 customers, including 5,000 customers that receive both telecom and electric services, according to its website.

The company’s electrical customers were not affected by Friday’s outage.

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