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92 calls affected during 911 outage in Washington state

December 23, 2021 GMT

SEATTLE (AP) — A 911 outage this month that affected about 20 call centers across seven counties in Washington state was caused by an error in a vendor’s network router, officials said Wednesday.

Washington Military Department spokesperson Karina Shagren said about 2,000 calls were made to 911 during the almost hourlong outage Dec. 9 and 92 of those callers received a busy signal, The Seattle Times reported.

About half of the 2,000 callers were directed to the correct call center and others were routed to an alternative 911 call center, she said.

The outage affected King, Snohomish, Skagit, Whatcom, Clallam, Jefferson and Kitsap counties.

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The state’s Emergency Management Division, part of the Washington Military Department, opened an investigation with Comtech Telecommunications, which the state contracts with to provide call management and 911 routing services.

Shagren declined to share a “root cause analysis” report Wednesday.

The Washington Military Department transitioned away from its previous provider, CenturyLink, after the state experienced a 30-minute systemwide 911 outage in October 2020 affecting 1,445 calls.

State and federal regulators also investigated outages in 2014 and 2018 under CenturyLink.

On Dec. 16, Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson submitted testimony to the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission calling for the company to be penalized $7.2 million, alleging it is to blame for the technological failures that led to the 2018 outage, which affected 10,752 calls over a nearly 50-hour period.