SWEETWATER COUNTY — As previously reported by SweetwaterNOW, a damaged fiber optic cable caused wide spread outages for many Internet Service Providers, Cell Phone Carriers, and Emergency Services. SweetwaterNOW reached out to the IT Director for Sweetwater Combined Communications David Halter for an update on the effect the outage had on 911 lines in Sweetwater County.
“The Joint Powers Board received the first call from dispatch at 8:32 a.m. that all of our 911 lines in Green River rang simultaneously, and then immediately stopped ringing. This is usually a sign that the lines went dark, or the carrier was testing equipment. One of our Internet connections also went offline, and our administrative (non-emergent) phone lines also went offline in Green River. All of our services were restored at 6:35 p.m.,” Halter said.
When asked if there were contingencies in place for this sort of issue prior to the event Halter explained, “Our systems are redundant by design. While we did lose phone lines in Green River and one of our Internet connections, our 911 and non-emergent lines in Rock Springs were still functional. The 911 lines in Rock Springs took over all of the 911 traffic. We sent out notifications through Facebook and Smart 911’s alerting feature with alternate phone numbers in the case someone from the public was unable to connect with us on 911 or our Green River number.”
Halter explained that anything further than that would require a state wide effort with legislative action.
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“The plan for additional resiliency lies at the State level. We need to move to Next-gen 911 (NG911) which will allow for multiple carriers and routes for emergency calls. We are using old E911 technology, which uses analog phone lines and circuits, and the sole 911 carrier in the State is Lumen (formerly CenturyLink). In fact, had this happened in Cheyenne, the entire State potentially could have lost 911 services,” he said. “There is movement at the State level, and our staff is involved in the planning of NG911. However, it takes legislative action and funding to move it forward. We will continue to review options at the local level as well. With some of the cellular carriers affected by this outage, I would also hope that they look at their systems for additional resiliency.”
It is not known at this time what caused the damage to the fiber optic cable.