AG Ferguson seeking 911 outage stories

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OLYMPIA — Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson wants to hear from people affected by last month’s nationwide 911 outage.

Ferguson’s request comes about three weeks after large portions of the United States’ 911 system went down for 12 hours on Dec. 17 and 18. Much of that system is managed by Monroe, Louisiana-based CenturyLink.

“For the second time, CenturyLink has fallen short of its obligations to provide reliable 911 services for Washingtonians,” Ferguson said in a news release. “If you called for help during this outage, only to be met with a busy signal, please share your story with my office.”

“We want to know exactly how CenturyLink’s failure impacted the people of our state,” he added.

Anyone who was affected by the outage can email to 911outage@atg.wa.gov, according to a news release.

Following a similar, six-hour outage in 2014, the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission, which regulate public utilities, trucking companies, railroads and other freight haulers, fined CenturyLink $2.9 million.

On Dec. 28, Federal Communications Commission Chair Ajit Pai announced the FCC and the Department of Homeland Security were investigating the outage as well.

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

In a tweet during the outage, CenturyLink said the company’s “engineers and technicians identified a network element that was impacting customer services and are addressing the issue in order to restore services.” However, the cause of the outage has not been publicly revealed.

Charles H. Featherstone can be reached via email at cfeatherstone@columbiabasinherald.com.

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