We’ve all been in the frustrating position of being on a work deadline and having the Wi-Fi inexplicably go out. These “network brownouts” waste hours of precious time and are now costing companies hundreds of thousands of dollars each year as more processes are moved online.

Swedish networking company Netrounds released a survey of 400 people working at a range of small, medium and large-sized companies, finding that many costly network outages are preventable. On average, most companies said they suffered as much as $400,000 or more in financial damage, with larger enterprises being damaged by $700,000 or more.

“Even before conducting the survey, we knew that network brownouts are common, but we were rather surprised by how damaging they are to businesses” CEO and co-founder of Netrounds Mats Nordlund said.

“It is clear that many IT Organizations rely on traditional monitoring solutions that are unable to mitigate network brownouts, as these solutions are looking at network devices and infrastructure, instead of focusing on how IT customers are able to use the network and applications.”

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According to Netrounds, most of the time the blame should fall on IT departments that were failing to conduct the appropriate tests and ignoring warning signs. More than 60% of network brownouts are initially uncovered by internal IT departments, external customers, or never even reported.

“Our survey concludes that network brownouts can be reduced by actively mimic customer behavior close to their locations, across the network and application layers,” Nordlund said.

“Active assurance should be automatically deployed at the same time as applications and network services are being handed over to customers, to ensure any issues are discovered proactively by IT Organizations instead of internal and external customers.”

IT departments are routinely failing to protect their companies, with just 39% of brownouts being discovered first by them. The biggest group responsible for notifying companies of a network brownout were customers and employees at 42%.

Survey respondents said brownouts were the third most important issue facing IT organizations after general hardware outages and security issues.

More than 80% told Netrounds that outages were “causing serious damage and frustrating employees” while almost half said they had lost revenue because of these brownouts.

With network outages, companies lose money from lost productivity, monetary damages, lost revenue, damaged reputations and mitigation costs. The average company loses up to $600,000 a year due to these brownouts.

Netrounds had a few suggestions for the companies repeatedly suffering from brownouts. They said the companies with IT departments that do frequent active testing and monitoring were 5 to 10 times more likely to avoid brownouts or catch them early.

Most time, outages related back to congestion or load issues, Missing or misconfigured QoS and problematic in-line devices, according to Netrounds.

Unfortunately, Netrounds said the costs of brownouts would only continue to rise as more companies went digital and relied on internet access for as variety of services.