CenturyLink ordered to take action after 911 outages

June 13, 2019 05:41 PM

In a meeting that was contentious at times, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) ordered CenturyLink to work more closely with the Department of Public Safety in reporting emergency 911 outages and improving the system.

"There was a gigantic failure here on the part of CenturyLink or their contractor for the failure that occurred on August 1st, 2018," PUC chairwoman Katie Sieben said during a meeting Thursday afternoon.


That's when 693 calls couldn't be completed over a 65-minute span in the late afternoon. An investigation shows only about one-third of 911 calls attempted in Minnesota during that time were completed.

In the aftermath of the outages, a CenturyLink representative told PUC they've been working with public safety officials to prevent it from happening again.

"We're on the phone with them constantly," said Jason Topp of CenturyLink. "We've had a number of face-to-face meetings. We just went through a tabletop exercise."

But, he was quickly interrupted by Sieben.

"Mr. Topp, we're not here to give you a gold star for doing what you should have been doing before."

Other commissioners also urged public safety and commerce officials to keep a close eye on enforcing the state contract with CenturyLink.

"We want you to press these guys going forward so we don't have 911 failures in the future," said Commissioner John Tuma.

PUC ultimately voted 5-0 to require more meetings between CenturyLink and public safety officials and regular reports on what's being done to improve the system.

"We're pretty much all on the same page," said Commissioner Dan Lipschultz, "but we need to take steps to make sure what happened doesn't happen again, and that failures on the 911 system are as infrequent as possible and remedied as quickly as possible."

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Tom Hauser

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