FCC Investigating Widespread CenturyLink Outage

The lengthy outage impacted voice, IP and transport services.

Edward Gately, Senior News Editor

January 2, 2019

2 Min Read
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CenturyLink says it’s in contact with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and will cooperate with its investigation into the telco’s nationwide outage that affected 911 service for numerous consumers across the country.


CenturyLink’s Linda Johnson

The lengthy outage, which also affected some Verizon customers, occurred on Dec. 27. Restoration of services began that day and network traffic had normalized as of Dec. 29, said CenturyLink spokeswoman Linda Johnson.

FCC chairman Ajit Pai said he spoke with CenturyLink to “underscore the urgency of restoring service immediately.” If the Trump administration’s government shutdown continues, the FCC might shut down most of its operations Thursday.

“When an emergency strikes, it’s critical that Americans are able to use 911 to reach those who can help,” he said. “The CenturyLink service outage is therefore completely unacceptable, and its breadth and duration are particularly troubling. I’ve directed the {FCC’s] Public Safety and Homeland Security bureau to immediately launch an investigation into the cause and impact of this outage. This inquiry will include an examination of the effect that CenturyLink’s outage appears to have had on other providers’ 911 services.”

For a full recap, read our timeline of the CenturyLink outage, from the moment it was reported to the FCC investigation.

The outage impacted voice, IP and transport services, and CenturyLink‘s visibility into its network-management system, impairing its ability to troubleshoot and prolonging the duration of the outage, Johnson said.

“The outage was caused by a faulty network management card from a third-party equipment vendor that caused invalid traffic replication,” she said. “Steps are being taken to help prevent the issue from reoccurring.”

CenturyLink has established a network-monitoring plan for key parameters that can cause this type of outage, based on advice from the third-party equipment vendor, Johnson said. Enhanced visibility processes will “quickly identify and terminate invalid packets from propagating the network,” she said.

“This will be jointly and regularly evaluated by the third-party equipment vendor in conjunction with CenturyLink network engineering to ensure the health of the affected nodes,” Johnson said.

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About the Author(s)

Edward Gately

Senior News Editor, Channel Futures

As news editor, Edward Gately covers cybersecurity, new channel programs and program changes, M&A and other IT channel trends. Prior to Informa, he spent 26 years as a newspaper journalist in Texas, Louisiana and Arizona.

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