FCC investigating recent 911 outages in four states

The FCC is investigating why 911 services were unavailable in parts of Nebraska, Nevada, South Dakota and Texas this week.
emergency vehicles
(Getty Images)

The Federal Communications Commission is investigating 911 outages that on Wednesday disrupted residents’ ability to contact emergency services in parts of Nebraska, Nevada, South Dakota and Texas.

Many of the reported outages had been restored by Wednesday evening, and on Thursday, the FCC said it was looking into the incident.

“We are aware of reports of 911-related outages and we are currently investigating,” the agency wrote in a social media post on Apr. 18.

The telecommunications firm Lumen Technologies confirmed to StateScoop on Friday that outages in Nevada, South Dakota and Nebraska were caused by a “third party company” that mistakenly cut its fiber cable during a light pole installation. It’s unclear what caused the outage in Texas, a state where Lumen Technologies does not operate.


“The recent multi-state 9-1-1 outages have underscored the significant challenges our emergency contact centers face,” Deborah Szajngarten, an executive at Carbyne, a public safety tech firm, told StateScoop in an emailed statement about the outages. “As local communities depend on these critical services during emergencies, it is concerning that outdated systems continue to compromise public safety.”

According to a recent survey by Carbyne and the National Emergency Number Association, 60% of emergency communication centers have encountered disruptions to their services, including internet, computer-aided dispatch and call-handling systems.

Despite outages to its 911 phone systems, South Dakota kept text-to-911 services operational in much of the state, the state Department of Public Safety wrote in social media post on Wednesday.

Sophia Fox-Sowell

Written by Sophia Fox-Sowell

Sophia Fox-Sowell reports on artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and government regulation for StateScoop. She was previously a multimedia producer for CNET, where her coverage focused on private sector innovation in food production, climate change and space through podcasts and video content. She earned her bachelor’s in anthropology at Wagner College and master’s in media innovation from Northeastern University.

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