Update: According to CenturyLink's status page, as of Friday night (Dec 28, 20:44 ET) "all consumer services impacted by this event, including voice and 911, have been restored. Some consumers may continue to experience limited latency, but those issues will clear in the next few hours."
If you've ever been in a serious emergency before, you probably already know how important it is to have quick access to emergency services. Whether you're in a car crash, a burning building, or facing a serious medical problem, the last thing you want to hear when you dial "911" is a busy signal.
Unfortunately for many Americans, that's precisely what happened beginning on Thursday. ISP CenturyLink's network recently went down in certain parts of the US (including Washington, Idaho, and Missouri) knocking out each location's 911 services in the process.
The nationwide @CenturyLink service outage and the delay in restoring critical 911 capabilities is unacceptable. I have spoken to CenturyLink to express my concerns and have directed the @FCC’s public safety staff to launch an investigation. My statement below. #publicsafety pic.twitter.com/HgQas1xtyB— Ajit Pai (@AjitPaiFCC) December 28, 2018
Federal Communication Commission Chairman Ajit Pai was quick to issue a statement expressing his disappointment with CenturyLink shortly after the incident went public. "When an emergency strikes, it's critical that Americans are able to use 911 to reach those who can help," Pai wrote. "The CenturyLink service outage is therefore completely unacceptable, and its breadth and duration are particularly troubling."
As of writing, CenturyLink has still failed to fully restore service to all affected regions and customers (its internet users have also been impacted), but it's making "good progress," according to the company's official Twitter account.
If you happen to live in one of the affected areas, you aren't completely out of luck in the case of an emergency. Texting 911 is one option, and many states have their own emergency service lines you can call should disaster strike. For our part, we'll update you when CenturyLink fully resolves the situation.