Nationwide Outage of 911 Emergency System Prompts Alerts from Westford Police

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Westford Police were among a number of public safety departments nationwide that were affected on Dec. 27 and 28 by sporadic 911 outages.

The issue was caused by troubles with the telecom giant CenturyLink and prompted Ajit Pai, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, to launch an investigation.

The outage apparently affected calls made with cellular phones and not landlines. It’s not clear how CenturyLink is connected to the nation’s 911 emergency system.

A robo call to Westford residents sent at 1:30 p.m. on Dec. 28 provided alternative telephone numbers to call in case of an emergency.

They are:

978-399-2345

or

978-692-0413.

However, by 2:30 p.m. the Massachusetts State Police website said the outages had been resolved.

Pai issued the following statement later that afternoon on Dec. 28:

“When an emergency strikes, it’s critical that Americans are able to use 911 to reach those who can help.  The CenturyLink service outage is therefore completely unacceptable, and its breadth and duration are particularly troubling.  I’ve directed the 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.  I have also spoken with CenturyLink to underscore the urgency of restoring service immediately.  We will continue to monitor this situation closely to ensure that consumers’ access to 911 is restored as quickly as possible.”

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