The glitch happened in a piece of equipment called a digital network control system, which communicates signals to digital boxes, Watson said. The system is connected to digital boxes in about 50,000 households in the cities that were affected, he said.
"But we had a software failure in that piece of equipment that knocked out the digital boxes completely. The experience of our customers would be they lost their TV," Watson said.
Ironically, the outage occurred while Charter was in the midst of a system upgrade to improve the cable network, he said.
"We were developing a stronger system to be more redundant," he said. "So if there was a mechanical failure … there would be a switch over to another system."
The most recent service disruption, however, was due to a software failure, not a mechanical failure.
There are 27,000 households with at least one digital box in Glendale, about 18,000 in Burbank, about 2,500 in La Crescenta and Montrose and about 1,700 in La Cañada Flintridge, Watson said.
But not all of these so-called digital households suffered through the six-hour television blackout.
Customers who run the cable directly into their television sets, instead of through a cable-company tuner, were not affected, he said. And some neighborhoods were shielded from the failure because the glitch did not penetrate their specific node, or service area, he said.
Charter Communications is offering clients that were affected by the blackout credits on their bills, Watson said. Normally, the company gives credit for the number of hours service was down by calculating the hourly rate, he said.
"That is what we're doing," he said. "In terms of whether customers will be satisfied, I'm hoping they will."