Centurylink Outage Leaves Thousands In Wyoming Without 911 Service

Thousands of Centurylink customers on Tuesday, including 911 service for people in Casper and northeast Wyoming, were left without phone service after a fiber break.

GJ
Greg Johnson

September 19, 20234 min read

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Update: As of 4:33 p.m., all services have been restored, according to Lumen, which operates Centurylink. The outage was "caused by a fiber cut from a third-party," the company told Cowboy State Daily. "Our techs worked nonstop to fix the issue as quickly as possible."

A widespread Centurylink outage has left thousands of customers in central and northeast Wyoming without telephone service on Tuesday, including the 911 emergency systems for a number of counties.

Emergency response dispatch centers in Campbell, Crook and Weston counties, along with the 911 line in Casper are down, prompting officials to give out direct-dial numbers for locals who need emergency medical or police services.

Campbell County Emergency Management Coordinator David King told Cowboy State Daily that the outage reportedly was caused by a break in a fiberoptic cable sometime early Tuesday morning.

“That’s what we’ve been told by the PSC (Public Service Commission), that a break was found sometime around 10 a.m. and there’s a work crew in route,” King said, adding there’s “no estimate” as to how long it’ll take to fix.

‘Really Strange’

The outage was first brought to the attention of the Campbell County Dispatch Center when the company sent an email that “they might have an outage underway,” King said. “Well, apparently it was out and I got a call about 6:30 this morning and we’ve been working on it here.”

King said the outage has been “really strange in some ways” because some services seem to be intermittently working, then not.

For instance, the 911 lines for the city of Gillette and Campbell County are down, as are those in Weston and Crook counties, he said. But while Gillette’s 911 texting system also is down, it seems to be working for Campbell County.

In Crook County, there’s a backup system that’s kicked in that reroutes 911 calls to county operators, who then can transfer them to dispatch. And the Casper Public Safety Communications Center also has reported problems.

“Dispatchers can hear the callers; however, callers cannot hear our dispatchers,” the center says in a press release.

Gillette, the CCSO and Casper center are all asking people to call separate numbers that ring through directly to cellphones dispatchers have that aren’t affected by the outage. In Gillette, people can also email the city.

“It’s just been a little odd,” King said of the intermittent nature of the service problems he’s encountered. “The phone we’re talking on here is a Verizon phone, however AT&T seems to have been hit harder. But then (someone) was trying to get me about a half hour ago and it was just going to voicemail, but I was able to pick up the phone and call them and it was just fine going out.”

No Word From Centurylink

Repeated attempts to contact Centurylink about the Wyoming outage were unsuccessful. All calls are funneled to an automatic system that doesn’t give outage updates or options to talk to a person.

An email to the company’s media contact address wasn’t responded to by the time this story was posted.

There also is no information about an outage on the company’s web or Facebook pages.

Business Almost As Usual

Along with emergency response systems, Centurylink provides telephone service for thousands of individuals and businesses around the region, including the city of Gillette.

The city is still operating, but can’t be reached by anyone calling in, said city spokeswoman Jennifer Toscana.

“A number of us do carry Google link cellphone numbers, and those work internally with ourselves,” she said. “We can call internally within the city.”

“Obviously, there’s a problem on our receiving end, but (she’s heard) that some AT&T users are affected as well and maybe some Verizon,” she said. “We’re just doing what we can to keep services running.”

Along with the city, county and 911 services, Campbell County School District 1 is affected as is the local hospital, King said.

By 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, King said he’s getting reports that some services may be restored, but there’s no timeline on when the fiberoptic break may be fully repaired.

If you need service

If you’re affected by the Centurylink outage and need emergency response, call these numbers.

In the city of Gillette:

  • 307-689-7702 
    307-670-3200 
    307-689-7777

Campbell County outside Gillette:

  • 307-299-3029

  • 307-299-0826

  • 307-696-9261

Casper:

  • 307-235-8278

  • 307-235-8279

Greg Johnson can be reached at greg@cowboystatedaily.com.

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Greg Johnson

Managing Editor

Veteran Wyoming journalist Greg Johnson is managing editor for Cowboy State Daily.