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Nationwide CenturyLink outages has led to sporadic dropped 911 calls; here’s what the FCC is doing


December 29, 2018

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CenturyLink’s outages have led to sporadic 911 outages in multiple states across the country.

What happened: On Thursday, CenturyLink customers nationwide reported experiencing outages of their internet coverage, which I wrote about for the Deseret News. Customers started experiencing problems in the early morning in much of the Western U.S.

But Friday, CenturyLink customers in Washington state and Massachusetts noted that the outages led to sporadic outages for 911 calls.

Washington: Washington first started experiencing these new issues Friday morning at about 1 a.m., according to KOMO News.

  • Some areas, like those in Pacific County, reported receiving 911 calls at around 4 a.m. Others areas, like King County and Thurston County, reported 911 service being restored at about 9 a.m. PST, KOMO News reports.
Massachusetts: Residents of Massachusetts reported similar issues on Friday morning, according to CBS Boston.

  • Massachusetts State Police said landline calls might also be affected.
  • “You may hear a fast busy signal, hear a recording saying ‘All circuits are busy’ or something similar, or you may get connected to a different emergency call center than you were expecting,” the State Police said in a statement.
Colorado: The nationwide outages led to dropped 911 calls in northern Colorado as well, according to The Greeley Tribune.

Reaction: CenturyLink said the cause of the dropped calls isn’t clear yet, The Washington Post reports.

  • “In case of an emergency, customers should use their wireless phones to call 911 or drive to their nearest fire station or emergency facility,” spokeswoman Nikki Wheeler told The Washington Post.
Investigation: Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai said Friday that the agency’s staff will investigate the matter, according to The Washington Post.

  • “The CenturyLink service outage is … completely unacceptable, and its breadth and duration are particularly troubling,” said Pai in a statement. “This inquiry will include an examination of the effect that CenturyLink’s outage appears to have had on other providers’ 911 services. I have also spoken with CenturyLink to underscore the urgency of restoring service immediately.”

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