Bloomberg News

Verizon Faces Query in Emergency-Call Failure in Washington Area

July 02, 2012

Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ:US) faces questioning from U.S. regulators over outages to 911 emergency call services after storms in the eastern U.S. cut electrical power for more than 4 million customers.

The 911 service run by Verizon in Fairfax County, Virginia, failed following the storms that knocked out power on June 29 and “it’s not completely restored,” Merni Fitzgerald, a spokeswoman for the locality, home to 1.08 million people near Washington, D.C., said in an interview today.

Residents in Fairfax and adjoining Prince William County were told to call alternate phone numbers, send e-mails or drive to a police or fire station if they had an emergency, according to a report by WRC-TV, the Washington-area affiliate of Comcast Corp.’s NBC Universal. There were no reported deaths, the station said in an article posted on its website.

“We plan to meet with a number of carriers in the coming weeks to explore the cause of service issues to 911 service centers,” David Turetsky, chief of the Federal Communications Commission’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, said in an e-mailed statement.

The emergency network stopped early June 30 after a commercial power failure at a Verizon building that houses switching equipment and winds blew down lines, Harry Mitchell, a company spokesman, said in an interview. Service was partly restored in both counties June 30, and fully restored in Prince William County yesterday and in Fairfax County today, Mitchell said.

“We’re pretty much back up,” Mitchell said. “We’ll do a detailed analysis.”

The FCC asked Verizon to explain its failure to connect 10,000 calls to 911 centers in the Washington area during a snowstorm in January 2011, and said it wanted the company to investigate the extent of the outage across its network.

To contact the reporter on this story: Todd Shields in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Bernard Kohn at

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