CenturyLink under investigation over failure to locate underground cabling

CenturyLink is under investigation by the Minnesota Office of Pipeline Safety after the agency received hundreds of complaints over the company’s failure to respond to requests to locate underground cabling. The issue started around April 2019, after CenturyLink switched the contractor responsible for the work. Under the Minnesota’s safety regulations, CenturyLink must mark the location of their underground infrastructure on the surface before another company or homeowner can start digging. 

Minnesota regulators are increasingly expressing their frustrations over service quality issues at CenturyLink. Minnesota’s 911 system, which is administered by CenturyLink, went out of service for 65 minutes last August. The outage resulted in 693 dropped calls. A Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (MNPUC) investigation found that no automatic alarms about the outage were sent to the state’s emergency call centers, and they were not notified of the outage until after the system was fixed. As a result, the MNPUC voted unanimously to increase CenturyLink’s reporting requirements. Regulators ordered CenturyLink to consult with the public-safety department and to submit six monthly reports on improvements to the 911 system, including explanation of failed 911 calls in the previous month. 

Other states are also examining CenturyLink’s service quality. In May, CWA District 7 filed comments in a rulemaking proceeding with the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission documenting how CenturyLink’s lack of investment, understaffing, and unreasonable metrics for workers have contributed to CenturyLink's failure to maintain its copper infrastructure.

Links:

CenturyLink under state investigation after hundreds of complaints (MPR News, July 17, 2019)

CenturyLink faces more scrutiny from Minnesota regulators after 911 outage (Star Tribune, Jun. 13, 2019)

CWA urges New Mexico regulators to adopt strong service quality standards, consumer protections (Speed Matters, Mar. 24, 2019)