CenturyLink fined $2.9 million for 911 system failure

CenturyLink admitted fault and agreed Thursday to pay a nearly $2.9 million fine as part of a settlement for a statewide 911 outage last year.

In the signed settlement agreement, the Louisiana-based telecommunications giant admitted that it failed to:

▪ Maintain and manage the 911 system as the law requires.

▪ Properly alert 911 call centers and state regulators about the outage.

▪ Automatically reroute 911 calls that didn’t go through.

About 6,000 emergency calls didn’t reach dispatchers in Washington during a six-hour stretch late April 9 and early April 10, 2014.

Washington was the state most affected by the outage, but the interruption spanned seven states and affected 11 million people.

The outage was blamed on a software error on the part of a third-party vendor, Colorado-based Intrado.

CenturyLink contracts with the state to provide Washington’s 911 services. Intrado is a subcontractor.

State Utilities and Transportation Commission staff members and CenturyLink signed the settlement and filed it Thursday

The three-member commission can approve, lower or raise the proposed $2,854,750 fine after it listens to all parties, including the state attorney general’s office.

A timeline for the review hasn’t been set.

“We worked diligently with commission staff to reach a settlement designed to protect consumers and to resolve the issues in this case,” CenturyLink said in a statement. “We look forward to presenting the settlement to the full commission.”

The attorney general’s office has come out against the agreement.

“We oppose this settlement because it doesn’t reflect the severity of potential harm to Washington residents due to loss of this critical service,” the attorney general’s office spokeswoman, Alison Dempsey-Hall, said via email.

CenturyLink and Intrado already settled with the Federal Communications Commission for a combined $17.4 million penalty earlier this year.

The federal agency did its own investigation because the outage affected multiple states.

Alexis Krell: 253-597-8268