911 Muti-State CentryLink Outage

Melina Bilodeau December 28th 2018

Last night many in Washington State and across the country received emergency notifications on their televisions, radios, and cell phones that 911 was down. The notification stated that if they were in need of emergency services to call the local dispatch offices or drive to their nearest emergency services station.

This is not the first time that CenturyLink has had a 911 failure. In 2015 they paid out a 16 million dollar settlement because of a failure in 7 states. This current failure spans 37 states as well as parts of Canada. This could be a costly outage for CenturyLink.

According to spokeswoman Debra Peterson the outage “is not related to hacking” but they can not tell us what caused the outage as of yet. There have been partial restorations to what they thought was an outage effecting only cell service but then learned it was more widespread and included landlines.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has referred the incident to the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau agencies for investigation of the matter. He stated “This inquiry will include an examination of the effect that CenturyLink’s outage appears to have had on other providers’ 911 services.”

Services are still in the process of restoration and it is not going like clockwork for the telecom company stating, “some additional technical problems as our service restoration efforts were underway.” There is still no time to when full service will be restored to all CenturyLink affected customers.

One victim has reportedly died due to the outage of the emergency system. Charlie Yaw, 30, of Broward County Florida had a heart condition. He had multiple unsuccessful attempts to call 911 and these calls were reportedly unnoticed for over an hour. According to a local news source, Alphonso Jefferson, assistant county administrator has commented “It is too early to tell whether today’s 911 outage contributed to Mr. Yaw’s death, we are currently researching the timeline to see what actually occurred. We owe it to the family to get them factual answers to their questions at this difficult time.”


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