UPDATE: 911 service restored after CenturyLink outage

Emergency managers say the service could go out again as CenturyLink works the nationwide problem.

911 service in Kitsap County was restored on Dec. 28 following a nationwide outage, first reported Thursday evening, according to the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office.

Kitsap County Emergency Management press officer Dave Rasmussen said future outages were possible while the telecom provider CenturyLink worked to address the problem.

“Until restoration is complete, there is a chance that we could temporarily lose service,” he wrote in a press release.

KCSO Sgt. Ken Dickinson said dispatchers were able to receive 911 calls as normal around 3:30 a.m., although an interruption was reported between 6:45 a.m. – 7:00 a.m.

For emergencies callers should dial 911, officials said. If the call doesn’t go through either dial (360) 308-5400 or send a text to 911.

Cell phones buzzed and chimed across Kitsap County late Thursday night with emergency alerts informing recipients that 911 service was down. The first alert was sent around 11:30 p.m., and a second was sent around 11:34 p.m.

“Widespread 911 outage in Wa. In case of emergency, call local police or fire department,” the second message read.

The outage was caused by a network disruption from the telecom provider CenturyLink. Early reports of a problem appeared on the company’s Twitter page at 10:01 a.m. Thursday.

“Our network is experiencing a disruption affecting customer service,” the statement read. “We know how important these services are, we are working to restore services as quickly as possible.”

Disruptions in 911 service were reported across the country, from Clark County to Boston, Massachusetts. Service in Utah, Idaho, Oregon, Arizona and Missouri were affected with callers getting busy signals, according to media reports.

CenturyLink is one of the largest telecommunications companies in the country, and provides internet and phone network services to major cell carriers like AT&T and Verizon, the technology news site TechCrunch reported.

It was not the first time a CenturyLink problem affected 911 services in Washington. On April 10, 2014 a network issue caused 911 service to go down for about six hours.

During the incident, Alicia Cappola of Everett told KIRO news that she called 911 more than 30 times about an intruder in her house, but couldn’t get through. She armed herself with a knife and the introducer left, the Seattle Times reported.

CenturyLink was fined $2.85 million by the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission for the incident.

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission announced it will be investigating the recent outage.

“When an emergency strikes, it’s critical that Americans are able to use 911 to reach those who can help,” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a statement. “The CenturyLink service outage is therefore completely unacceptable, and its breadth and duration are particularly troubling.”

Pai said he has directed the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau to investigate both “the cause and impact” of the outage.

Gabe Stutman is a reporter with the Kitsap News Group. Follow him on Twitter @kitsapgabe.

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