Investigations begin over 911 failures

December 29, 2018

U.S. officials and at least one state said Friday they have started investigations into a widespread CenturyLink internet outage that has disrupted 911 service, including in Skagit County.

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai called the outage that began Thursday “completely unacceptable” because people who need help couldn’t use the emergency number.

The commission’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau will investigate the cause and effect of the outage, he said.

While CenturyLink reports it has made progress in repairing its systems, Skagit County spokeswoman Bronlea Mishler said people should be aware future outages may be possible.

If 911 does not work, those in Skagit County are asked to report emergencies to 360-336-3131.

For nonemergencies, people may call the dispatch center at 360-428-3211.

“CenturyLink is continuing work on infrastructure in several states but has not declared a successful fix yet,” Mishler said. “If people can’t get through to 911 the normal way, they should call those backup numbers.”

CenturyLink is one of the largest telecommunications companies in the United States. Customers from New York to California reported outages.

CenturyLink spokeswoman Debra Peterson said the outage “is not related to hacking,” but she declined further comment.

Regulators in Washington state said they were opening an investigation into an outage of its statewide 911 service.

The state Utilities and Transportation Commission said interruptions began about 8:30 p.m. Thursday. The commission’s regulatory services division director, Mark Vasconi, said the system appeared stable Friday but the agency was monitoring it.

— Skagit Valley Herald reporter Kera Wanielista contributed to this report.

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