The Association of U S West Retirees



Qwest outage affect other telecoms in Wyoming
Friday, August 4, 2006

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - The outage that left much of Wyoming without 911 service for hours earlier this week affected the emergency dispatch systems of other telecommunications companies in the state besides Qwest Communications International Inc., a state regulatory official said Friday.

It is unclear why other companies were affected when a Qwest fiber-optic line was cut in Cheyenne, Stephen Oxley, secretary and chief counsel for the state Public Service Commission, said.

"We need to dig into that," Oxley said.

The PSC has four of its 23 staff members investigating Tuesday's outage, which cut long-distance and 911 service to residents across the state, including the major cities of Casper, Gillette and Cody.

Qwest and the PSC are still trying to determine the extent of the outage, which stretched from Jackson in northwest Wyoming to Lusk in the far eastern part of the state.

"This is a very, very serious public safety issue," Oxley said. "The commission takes it very, very seriously."

Michael Dunne, spokesman for Qwest, said the company was still investigating the outage, which he earlier attributed to a "boring operation," and how many people lost service.

While people where unable to summon police, fire and medical personnel on the 911 system, they were able to dial the local 10-digit numbers for help during the outage, Dunne said.

The outage occurred at about 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, and all long-distance and 911 service was restored by midnight, although the larger cities and towns had 911 service restored within several hours of the outage.

Oxley said the fiber-optic line was cut near Qwest's offices in Cheyenne. Despite that, Cheyenne, the largest city in Wyoming, was not affected.

Oxley said the agency is working to find out how many other 911 systems were affected and why there was no backup system available.

"It's all bound up together, but the fact that 911 went down for a lot of people is very, very troubling," he said.