FCC calls CenturyLink’s 37-hour nationwide outage “completely unacceptable”

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released the results of its investigation of CenturyLink’s nationwide December 2018 outage. The investigation determined that the outage was caused by an equipment failure that was exacerbated by a network configuration error. The outage lasted 37 hours, affected as many of 22 million customers across 39 states, and blocked completion of nearly one thousand 911 calls. 

“This massive ‘sunny day’ outage was completely unacceptable and impacted millions of customers across the country. Americans expect and deserve reliable phone and broadband service—especially the ability to call 911,” said FCC Chairman Pai. “It’s important for communications providers to take heed of the lessons learned from this incident.” 

However, the FCC refused to fine CenturyLink for the outage or require the company to take specific remedial measures, such as network upgrades. Instead, the FCC plans to “engage in stakeholder outreach to promote best practices and contact other major transport providers to discuss their network practices” and “offer its assistance to smaller providers to help ensure that our nation’s communications networks remain robust, reliable, and resilient.”


How malformed packets caused CenturyLink’s 37-hour, nationwide outage (ARS Technica, Aug. 19, 2019)

FCC Issues Report on CenturyLink Network Outage (FCC, Aug. 19, 2019)