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Dec. 28, 2018 / 6:06 PM GMT

By David K. Li

The Federal Communications Commission launched an investigation of telecom giant CenturyLink in the wake of a “troubling” nationwide outage that prevented some customers from being able to dial 911 from their cell phones, officials said Friday.

“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 addressing the outage, which began on Thursday and continued into Friday morning and impacted an untold number of customers from New York to California.

“The CenturyLink service outage is therefore completely unacceptable, and its breadth and duration are particularly troubling. I’ve directed the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau to immediately launch an investigation into the cause and impact of this outage.”

A CenturyLink outage map on Dec. 28, 2018.

A rep for the Monroe, Louisiana-based company CenturyLink could not be immediately reached for comment on Friday.

Pai said he wants to know what went wrong and why it’s taken so long to get fixed.

“I have also spoken with CenturyLink to underscore the urgency of restoring service immediately,” he said. “We will continue to monitor this situation closely to ensure that consumers’ access to 911 is restored as quickly as possible.”

The company first announced the service disruption at 1:01 p.m. ET on Thursday.

And by 12:02 p.m. ET on Friday, the company said in a tweet it was still working to restore full service. It was not immediately clear if the outage prevented anyone from receiving emergency assistance.

“Restoring impacted services for our customers is very important to us,” the company said. “We are seeing good progress, but our service restoration work is not complete. Our teams are continuing their efforts to resolve these issues and we will continue to provide updates throughout the day.”

The outage impacted more than just cell phone users.

In Wyoming, lottery officials were unable to pull numbers Thursday for their twice-a-week Cowboy Draw game, due to the CenturyLink outage.

Four Banner Health hospitals in Colorado, Wyoming, and Nebraska lost internet service — and thus their access to electronic medical records — for nearly 24 hours between Thursday and Friday mornings, a company rep said.

But there were enough paper records for doctors and nurses to treat their patents without any harm, according to Banner Health spokeswoman Caitlin Wendt.

“We were able to work through it with backup procedures we have in place,” Wendt said.

And the Massachusetts Management Agency urged New Englanders on Friday to learn the 10-digit phone numbers of their local police departments due to sporadic 911 problems caused by the CenturyLink outage.


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