Nebraska Public Service Commission reveals cause of 911 outage

A fiber cable was accidentally cut causing a 911 outage across several counties in Nebraska on Thursday.
Published: Sep. 1, 2023 at 4:41 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Overnight Thursday into Friday, emergency phone lines in several Nebraska counties were out of service.

Telecommunications provider Lumen and the Nebraska Public Service Commission said a fiber optic cable was cut by a third-party contractor doing work in Omaha.

“That impacted the 911 service to a number of 911 centers across the state,” state 911 director David Sankey said.

He said it’s not uncommon for that to happen, but it rarely has this kind of impact on 911 because of the other systems in place, like redundant network paths.

“If, for some reason, there’s an interruption in one circuit, the other circuit’s able to deliver the path,” Sankey said.

However, he said that the network path was not available last night, and the commission is asking why. He said they could open an investigation into what happened. If they find a violation, they could fine Lumen.

There are 68 911 centers throughout Nebraska, 39 of which were impacted, according to NPSC.

“I would say that the reason that the 911 centers were affected with this particular outage is because the calls that were being delivered on that circuit were directed toward those centers, and there were other circuits delivering calls to the 911 centers that remained operational,” Sankey said.

Sankey said they’re transitioning 911 centers to a platform where they can use an emergency services internet protocol network for calls to be routed to another center.