The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

CenturyLink outage affects 9-1-1, internet locally, nationwide


January 3, 2019

An equipment failure at a CenturyLink facility Thursday evening in Colorado caused local and nationwide outages to 9-1-1 dispatch centers, long distance telephone service and internet connections.

CenturyLink reported the outage about 8:18 p.m. Thursday, and Beau Renfro, Wahkiakum County Emergency Services (EMS) soon joined a nationwide telephone conference call that continued none stop into Friday morning.

When it became clear the outage would last some time, EMS personnel sent text and reverse 9-1-1 telephone messages to county residents to notify people of the outage and identify other phone numbers with which people could report problems and calls for emergency service.

The 9-1-1 service was restored about 3:30 a.m. Because problems were continuing in the CenturyLink network, Wahkiakum EMS officials hesitated to announce the return to service until the entire network was restored in Washington Friday morning.

Apparently no calls for service came to the Cathlamet dispatch center during the outage.

"I don't know if we missed any calls," Renfro said. "I don't believe we missed any to our business line."

The sheriff's office has regular numbers for business, and Renfro said dispatchers eliminated the phone tree answering service so that calls went straight to the dispatcher. It wasn't possible to streamline calls from the Westend, which is served by Western Wahkiakum Telephone Company and not CenturyLink.

Text 9-1-1 continued to operate during the outage, he added.

From participating in the nationwide conference call, Renfro learned that the outage had affected long distance and internet service in places across the nation. Wahkiakum County was the second in Washington to have service restored, Renfro said.

On the call, CenturyLink said a faulty network management card in a Colorado facility caused the problem. The single card propagated invalid data frame packets that overloaded the CenturyLink network.

On Friday, the chair of the Federal Communications Commission said the agency would investigate the outage.


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