Internet outage on KU campus disrupts services; restored access expected by Wednesday morning

Students walk between classes at the University of Kansas on Monday, Nov. 16, 2015, in Lawrence, Kan.

If you imagine the Internet fiber cables feeding Kansas University as a tree, the tree’s trunk was damaged near the base Tuesday afternoon, leading to a campuswide outage that was expected to last overnight.

In addition to shutting down Internet service and access to KU email and websites, the Internet outage also froze state testing mid-test for thousands of K-12 students across 17 states, which rely on the KU-based Center for Educational Testing and Evaluation to administer the online tests.

The outage was reported around 1:30 p.m.

Some services were restored late Tuesday afternoon, with the rest expected to be restored “in waves” overnight, according to an announcement at

David Day, director of KU Information Technology external affairs, said Tuesday afternoon that the university had determined the location of the problem and that crews were working to repair the fibers, though he declined to say exactly where or how the fibers got cut.

“It was a main connection on campus,” Day said.

The KanREN Internet network feeds into the KU campus at Daisy Hill, Day said. From there, the university’s internal campus network fiber goes to the Price Computing Center on Sunnyside Avenue and branches across campus.

Day said the fiber cable cut occurred between Daisy Hill and Price.

The main campus lost Internet, and KU websites and applications — such as Blackboard — on servers housed at Price were also inoperable to users on- and off-campus alike, Day said.

A number of KU employees whose landlines have been converted to the Internet-based Skype for Business temporarily lost phone service, including those at KU Information Technology and LEEP2, the new engineering building. KU is about a year into a three-year process of replacing all campus’ landlines with Skype.

Edwards Campus in Overland Park also was affected, Day said. The campus had wired Internet access but lost Wi-Fi, as its Wi-Fi servers are located at Price in Lawrence, Day said.

West Campus did not lose access, Day said.

Tuesday’s outage appears to be KU’s worst, at least in recent years.

A fiber cut in front of the engineering complex two years ago was the last major outage, Day said. It affected a number of buildings in that area but not all of campus.

The 15,000 K-12 students who were in the middle of online state tests when the Internet went down won’t lose their work, said Marianne Perie, director of KU’s Center for Educational Testing and Evaluation.

“It saves as it goes, so they will be able to pick up right where they left off,” Perie said.

Perie said she expected to contact school districts first thing Wednesday morning with an update on when students will be able to resume testing.

The Center for Educational Testing and Evaluation is contracted to develop and administer official state testing in various subjects for districts across Kansas and Alaska, as well as tests for students with cognitive disabilities in 15 other states, Perie said.

Lawrence school district administrators did not have a count of how many students were in the midst of testing at the time of the outage, but several schools were likely affected.

“Various grade levels in virtually all” of the district’s 21 schools were testing Tuesday, according to Terry McEwen, director of curriculum, instruction and assessment for the district.

Some Internet users elsewhere in Lawrence also reported their access was down Tuesday afternoon.

However, AT&T Senior Public Relations Manager Chris Lester indicated in a statement that the reported U-verse service outage was not related to the KU outage.