Washington PSAPs Concerned with 9-1-1 Outage Response (6/17/14)
Tuesday, June 17, 2014 | Comments

Two public-safety answering points (PSAPs) in Washington state said the local exchange carrier and its subcontractor didn’t notify them in April when a 9-1-1 call delivery outage occurred.

The comments were filed in response to the FCC’s inquiry into the major 9-1-1 outage in Washington April 9 – 10. Press reports and preliminary data indicated that more than 4,500 9-1-1 calls to PSAPs didn’t get through in Washington state alone during a six-hour period before midnight April 9.

King and Pacific counties in Washington filed comments stating that CenturyLink and contractor Intrado had no indication of an internal outage, and the companies didn’t notify the local jurisdictions of a problem. The counties discovered the problem after individual citizens reported to the county officials that their 9-1-1 calls didn’t go through, according to the filings.

King County said that the Washington state Emergency Services IP Network (ESInet) experienced the 9-1-1 outage because of technical error in a call router, preventing the system from processing calls. During the outage period, 224 9-1-1 calls were delivered to PSAPs in King County, and 666 9-1-1 calls failed.

“Neither CenturyLink nor Intrado provided any instructions to PSAPs on what they could do to mitigate the outage,” said the King County filings. “The PSAPs were left on their own to try to figure out how to provide some level of service to the public. In King County, the 10-digit emergency numbers for the PSAPs were provided to the public, and people were instructed to call 9-1-1 and if their call did not go through, to call the 10-digital number for their PSAP.”

King County said it is concerned that Intrado uses only one ESInet with only two call routers to provide 9-1-1 service to all states nationwide. “This leaves the nationwide next-generation 9-1-1 (NG 9-1-1) network with no redundancy,” the filing said.

Pacific County officials said that enhanced 9-1-1 (E9-1-1) directors and coordinators from all Washington counties have been working with CenturyLink and Intrado since the outage, and the company officials explained the issue in detail. “The cause of the outage is important and a short-term fix has been implemented with long-term changes being planned,” said the Pacific County filing. “In retrospect, however, the cause of the outage is no longer the primary concern, but the issues of awareness, notification and follow-up continue.”

CenturyLink filed comments with the FCC on the outage but marked them confidential.

The Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA), an association representing manufacturers and suppliers of high-tech communications networks, filed comments saying the FCC should refrain from regulatory action on network reliability.

“TIA supports the commission’s efforts to ensure that these networks are reliable and resilient, but the FCC should refrain from taking regulatory action, and encourage and allow network operators and vendors to continue their voluntary efforts in improving the reliability of their networks.”

TIA’s comments are available here.

King County’s comments are here, and Pacific County’s filing is here.

Your comments are welcome, click here.


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