CenturyLink cable, internet and telephone service in Minnesota and elsewhere in the country was experiencing outages, with some of the consequences being uncertainty about access to 911 in a large part of the state.
Some state employees trying to call some phones in the 651 area code are getting rapid busy signals, according to the Minnesota Commerce Department's help desk. That same problem is cropping up with long-distance calls, the help desk informed the agency's employees in an e-mail Thursday morning.
Internal calling among state employees is not affected, according to a statement released by Minnesota IT Services, a state agency.
"Minnesota IT Services is monitoring the situation … as CenturyLink continues to actively work on restoring service from multiple locations throughout the country," the statement continued.
In Minneapolis, 911 service was unaffected by the outage, which began in the early hours of Thursday.
"We do not believe the CenturyLink outage is affecting people's ability to call 911, but if you have any issues getting through to the Mpls Emergency Communications Center via 911, please call (612) 348-2345," the department posted at 1:17 p.m. from its Twitter account. "We will advise when outage has been rectified."
According to DownDetector, which tracks website outages, the first online reports of cable, internet and phone service interruption started popping up about 2:50 a.m. Most of the reports originated from the Midwest and the West Coast, the site reported.
In St. Louis County, which includes Duluth and the Iron Range, landlines are disrupted sporadically.
Because all major cellphone providers are operating, "if possible, use a cellphone if you need to call 911," the St. Louis County Sheriff's Office said in a statement. Service was restored late Thursday.
In Edina, the outage is affecting nonemergency lines for police, fire and emergency medical services for the Twin Cities suburb of 50,000.
"Our network is experiencing a disruption affecting customer services," said Stephanie Meisse, spokeswoman for CenturyLink, whose headquarters are in Monroe, La. "We [also] understand some customers are currently unable to generate tickets through the CenturyLink help portal. We know how important these services are to our customers and we are working to restore services as quickly as possible."
Earlier this year, a widespread outage affected emergency communications in cities, county sheriffs' offices and at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, as well as services in North Dakota and North Carolina, according to CenturyLink officials. The outage was later blamed on a third-party vendor performing routine work on its network.