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FCC investigates widespread CenturyLink failure that has disrupted the 911 service: NPR



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The Federal Communications Commission has launched a phone and Internet drop-out investigation that disrupted 911 services nationwide on Thursday.

The telecommunications giant CenturyLink, based in Monroe, La, said the breakout on Thursday at 8:18 pm ET. The website Down Detector says that mainly western states were affected, but emergency service providers on both coasts reported disruptions. CenturyLink said "a network element … has had an impact on customer service," but has not specified the cause of the failure or the number of customers affected.

"When an emergency occurs, it's critical that Americans can use 911 to reach those who can help," said FCC leader Ajit Pai in a press release on Friday. "The failure of the CenturyLink service is therefore totally unacceptable, and its breadth and duration are particularly worrying." [PDF]

On Friday afternoon, more than 24 hours after the first report of the failure, CenturyLink's Twitter feed said, "While our network experiences service disruptions where CenturyLink is the 911 service provider, 911 calls are completed." The tweet followed an earlier one that led to the mockery in which CenturyLink suggested to its customers to drive to fire stations if they could not call 911. Messages like these, from the Helena, Mont., Police Department Thursday:

There are 911 in some Rescue managers continued to call the residents with local 10-digit numbers that could answer emergency calls. If you can not find your city's 10-digit emergency number, please contact the State 911 department at 508-872-2508, and tell the dispatcher the exact location of the emergency, including the city or city , These can take you to the right department. Good idea to save this number on the phone. https://t.co/Pc7CMbWNc4[19459008-PoliceStatePolice(@MassStatePolice)[19454511] December 28, 2018

Brian Fontes, Chief Executive Officer of the National Emergency Numbers Association, says that while small, isolated 911 outages are very common and quickly fixed, failures that affect a large enough population to initiate an FCC investigation are not the case.

According to the FCC, the last investigation into a 911 outage was launched last March. AT & T imposed fines of $ 5.25 million on two nationwide outages in March and May of 2017, which lasted about six hours and totaled 1,500 unsuccessful 911 calls.

In addition to the failure of 911 services, the CenturyLink failure in at least two states, New Mexico and Montana, also caused failures of Verizon network services. Some ATMs in Montana and Idaho also did not work, and at the North Colorado Medical Center in Greeley, Colorado, doctors and nurses sometimes had trouble accessing patient records.

CenturyLink calls itself "the second largest US communications provider for global enterprise customers." Growth in the western states has been driven by mergers, such as the acquisition of QWest based in Denver, which was approved by the FCC in 2011. Last year, the FCC approved CenturyLink's acquisition of Level-3 Communications, worth approximately $ 34 billion.


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