CenturyLink outage takes down several 911 emergency services across the US

Downtime caused by network issue affecting 15 of CenturyLink's data centers.
Written by Catalin Cimpanu, Contributor

Emergency 911 services in some US states have gone down yesterday and today due to a massive outage reported at several CenturyLink data centers.

According to a CenturyLink status page, the outage began at around 12pm ET on December 27, and work started on resolving the issue at around 7am ET today, although not all services have been restored just yet.

On Twitter, the ISP described the outage as "a network element that was impacting customer services." The company said the mysterious "network element" issue impacted service at 15 of its data centers, across both Europe and North America.

ISPs suffer outages --and even prolonged outages-- all the time. However, this technical issue was different from others because CenturyLink is one of the main providers of internet and telephony connections to many of the US' 911 emergency call centers.

Counties all over the US reported downtimes of their 911 call centers over the past hours, impacting states such as Washington, Oregon, Minnesota, Massachusetts, Idaho, New Mexico, Missouri, Arizona, Colorado, and even some 911 services across the border, in Canada.

Local police and county sheriff's departments have been answering distressed users on social media for the past few hours, giving out direct phone numbers to their local dispatchers.

Besides 911 services, the outage also affected the company's residential internet, phone, and TV provider services. Some ATMs were also down for the same reason. Customers complaining on social media claimed that their connectivity issue started a day before CenturyLink claims it has, on the second day of Christmas.

But while the US ISP is working on restoring service, things may not be going as smooth as the company was hoping for. Earlier today, on Twitter, a CenturyLink spokesperson said that the company discovered "some additional technical problems as our service restoration efforts were underway."

There is still no time to when full service will be restored to all CenturyLink affected customers.

Update, December 30, 05:50 ET: The CenturyLink outage has fully ended on December 29. In a message sent to core internet providers, the company detailed the root cause of the outage, blaming the issue on a "network management card in Denver, CO [that] was propagating invalid frame packets across device."The FCC has also announced an investigation into the outage.

Cybercrime and malware, 2019 predictions

Related stories:

Editorial standards