Wyoming will investigate CenturyLink internet outage

Wyoming regulators said they will investigate problems with 911 calls in their state during CenturyLink's nationwide internet outage last week.

Wyoming Public Service Commission wants to know more about failures in a system that tells dispatchers the phone number and location of incoming 911 calls, senior counsel Chris Petrie said Monday.

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"Imagine that you've had a heart attack and you drag yourself to the phone, call and pass out," Petrie told the Wyoming Tribune Eagle. "The dispatch would know who is calling and where from without you telling them."

Dispatchers in Laramie and Sweetwater counties had problems with the system.

Cheyenne Mayor Marian Orr called the internet outage unacceptable and said she was looking forward to the investigation. She also criticized CenturyLink for not contacting local officials when the outage started.

CenturyLink spokeswoman Kristin Lee said the company contacted municipal governments when service was restored. Orr said that wasn't sufficient and that she should have heard directly from the company as soon as trouble started.

Lee said CenturyLink welcomes the Wyoming investigation.

"I think it's very important to look at all aspects of this outage," Lee said. "The Public Service Commission is doing the right thing."

The Federal Communications Commission and Washington state regulators also are investigating the outage, which began Thursday and affected customers from New York to California.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai called it "completely unacceptable" because of the impact on 911 systems.

"Its breadth and duration are particularly troubling," he said.

The FCC's Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau will investigate the cause and effect of the outage, he said.

CenturyLink has said little about the cause except that it was not related to hacking.

CenturyLink, based in Monroe, Louisiana, is one of the largest telecommunications companies in the United States. It offers communications and information technology services in dozens of states.

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Information from: Wyoming Tribune Eagle, http://www.wyomingnews.com