There are numerous news articles like this one in reporting that accounting and tax software company Intuit suffered a massive outage beginning Tuesday night at about 2200 EDST that took down its main web site along with those of Quicken, QuickBooks, TurboTax and Quickbase.

Many small businesses depend on Intuit's on-line accounting services, and according to the news reports, they are extremely angry over the outages. Some 300,000 customers use Intuit's on-line services, which generated about a third of the company's revenue of $1.61 billion, said.

As of 1332 EDST today, Intuit announced that all of its services were back on-line and fully operational.

The explanation given for the problem was described on Intuit's blog this way:

"Our preliminary investigation indicates the outage occurred during a routine maintenance procedure Tuesday night. An accidental power failure during that procedure affected both our primary and backup systems, taking a number of Intuit web sites and services offline. While power was quickly restored, we're working diligently to validate our systems and bring them back into full operation."

Intuit also apologized saying, "We apologize for disruptions we've caused and understand the importance of our services to our customers."

How many of its customers unconditionally accept Intuit's apology will be interesting to see. I don't doubt that many will demand that they be compensated for the losses they may have occurred.

Before the BP oil spill, most companies in similar circumstances would likely say to their customers, "Sorry about that, but accidents happen, and we aren't legally responsible for the negative consequences to you that may have resulted."  In this post-BP compensation fund era, I think more IT customers are going to demand they too be made whole for IT errors, accidents or not.

Again, it will be interesting to see whether Intuit feels that it needs to do more than provide a written apology to its customers.

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How the FCC Settles Radio-Spectrum Turf Wars

Remember the 5G-airport controversy? Here’s how such disputes play out

11 min read
This photo shows a man in the basket of a cherry picker working on an antenna as an airliner passes overhead.

The airline and cellular-phone industries have been at loggerheads over the possibility that 5G transmissions from antennas such as this one, located at Los Angeles International Airport, could interfere with the radar altimeters used in aircraft.

Patrick T. Fallon/AFP/Getty Images

You’ve no doubt seen the scary headlines: Will 5G Cause Planes to Crash? They appeared late last year, after the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration warned that new 5G services from AT&T and Verizon might interfere with the radar altimeters that airplane pilots rely on to land safely. Not true, said AT&T and Verizon, with the backing of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, which had authorized 5G. The altimeters are safe, they maintained. Air travelers didn’t know what to believe.

Another recent FCC decision had also created a controversy about public safety: okaying Wi-Fi devices in a 6-gigahertz frequency band long used by point-to-point microwave systems to carry safety-critical data. The microwave operators predicted that the Wi-Fi devices would disrupt their systems; the Wi-Fi interests insisted they would not. (As an attorney, I represented a microwave-industry group in the ensuing legal dispute.)

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