The power blackouts that followed Hurricane Ike have caused the widest outage for U.S. Internet service since 2003, according to a firm that tracks Internet connectivity.

Internet connections in Texas, Ohio and Pennsylvania were the hardest hit, according to Renesys Corp., but the storm also caused outages in Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Kentucky, Illinois and Indiana.

Surrounding states had scattered outages as well.

It was the largest area to lose its connections to the Internet since the Northeast blackout of 2003, said data engineer Martin Brown at Renesys.

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The Manchester, N.H.-based company doesn't track Internet connectivity by the number of people using it, but by "autonomous networks," which roughly equates to the "neighborhoods" of the global network.

Each may represent a university or a small Internet service provider, or part of a larger carrier's network.

At the peak Monday, Ike had taken out more than 400 such networks for at least an hour each.

Some of the outages persisted Wednesday, with Time Warner Cable Inc.'s network in Ohio and NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston being affected, according to Renesys.

By comparison, the Northeast blackout took out 2,500 networks.