A spokesman for Sprint, which maintains a large portion of the Internet backbone, said today that its network was down between 8:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. PT. Sprint spokesman Charles Fleckenstein said the blackout resulted when an Internet service provider in either Virginia or Florida that configured its routers to send data along 10,000 duplicate routes. The duplication of the routes between network hosts caused a tidal wave of router errors that spiraled throughout the network.
"By its very nature, the Internet bagan distributing these duplicate routes, causing a disruption in Internet traffic," Sprint said in a statement issued this afternoon. "Sprint recognized the situation and immediately began corrective action, including notifying other Internet backbone providers."
Fleckenstein said the problem was not exclusive to the East Coast and could even have affected Internet access internationally. Sprint and other access providers were able to correct the problem by resetting their routing tables.
ISPs around the country reported problems with their networks. A spokeswoman for UUNet Technologies said that its network was affected on the West Coast for a short time but that it is functioning normally now.
Leonard Conn, chief executive of Oklahoma ISP Ionet, said his network was disconnected from other access providers for about 30 minutes, though users could communicate within Ionet's service.