Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai announced Friday that FCC will investigate last week’s nationwide CenturyLink outage, which impacted 911 service across the country. The outage, which primarily impacted Western states, began shortly after 8 a.m. ET on Dec. 27 and was resolved by 9 p.m. ET on Dec. 28.

“The outage was caused by a faulty network management card from a third-party equipment vendor that caused invalid traffic replication,” said Linda Johnson, a CenturyLink spokeswoman. “Steps are being taken to help prevent the issue from reoccurring.”

The outage only impacted cellular calls to 911, not calls from landlines. The states of Washington, Utah, Idaho, Oregon, Arizona, and Missouri were all impacted by the outage.

As a result of the extended outage, the FCC launched an investigation.

“When an emergency strikes, it’s critical that Americans are able to use 911 to reach those who can help,” Pai said during the midst of the outage in a Dec. 28 statement. “The CenturyLink service outage is therefore completely unacceptable, and its breadth and duration are particularly troubling. I’ve directed the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau to immediately launch an investigation into the cause and impact of this outage. This inquiry will include an examination of the effect that CenturyLink’s outage appears to have had on other providers’ 911 services. I have also spoken with CenturyLink to underscore the urgency of restoring service immediately. We will continue to monitor this situation closely to ensure that consumers’ access to 911 is restored as quickly as possible.”

However, if the partial Federal government shutdown continues, the FCC will suspend most operations mid-day on Jan. 3, meaning the investigation likely won’t get underway until a budget deal is reached between Congress and President Trump.

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk's Assistant Copy & Production Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.