OKLAHOMA - Widespread Phone Outage to 918 Area Code

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Okla. Cities Suffer Phone Outage

Source: Associated Press Publication date: 2000-06-20

TULSA, Okla. (AP) -- A widespread telephone outage disrupted service to the 918 area code for hours early Tuesday, including 911 service in some northeast Oklahoma cities.

A Southwestern Bell spokesman said a power outage at the company's signaling location in downtown Tulsa cause the outage from 2:30 a.m. to 5:30 a.m.

"We were able to restore it, and we are back on," spokesman Marty Richter said at 8:30 a.m.

But widespread problems were still being reported throughout northeast Oklahoma.

The Rogers County Sheriff's Office said 911 service had been disrupted there. Authorities in Muskogee County said their 911 service was working but a system for checking license plate numbers was down.

Service appeared to be restored in the city of Tulsa, which launched its emergency operations plan upon the discovery of the outage around 3 a.m. Police, fire and ambulance units were dispatched to major intersections and convenience stores to be available to residents needing emergency assistance.

Richter said the Southwestern Bell building had backup generators, but he did not know if they worked after the power outage. He also did not know how many people were affected but said the outage involved land lines in the entire 918 area code.

Tulsa officials said Tuesday morning that they knew of no emergency calls that were missed. Some emergency calls were able to go through the 911 service.

The city is practiced in dealing with phone cutoffs.

In 1992, the sale of tickets to a Garth Brooks concert was blamed for jamming phone lines in Tulsa and preventing a man from reaching 911 when his wife had a heart attack and died.

In 1998, an outage caused by flooding at the same downtown Southwestern Bell building shut down the city's 911 system for 51 minutes and left it working intermittently for several hours.


-- (Dee360Degree@aol.com), June 20, 2000


Southwestern Bell moves to prevent repeat of 911 service outage in Tulsa Mayor says company admits it didn't properly notify city of lapse


Associated Press

TULSA, Okla.  Southwestern Bell presented Tulsa officials Friday with a "plan of action" developed in response to a widespread telephone outage that disrupted service to the 918 area code early Tuesday.

The outage prevented 180,000 of 600,000 Southwestern Bell customers from calling 911.

Mayor Susan Savage said Southwestern Bell conceded that it didn't properly notify city officials about the outage and pledged to take steps to ensure that the problem doesn't happen again.

"They said all the right things," she said.

Southwestern Bell spokesman Marty Richter declined to comment on whether proper procedures were followed.

"We felt the meeting with the mayor was very productive, and we're looking forward to working closely with them," he said.

Company officials said the downtown power substation experienced mechanical problems late Monday, causing the facility to switch to backup battery power until about 2:40 a.m.

The outage is thought to have occurred about 3:15 a.m. Tuesday, when 911 operators noticed they weren't receiving calls.

Ms. Savage said the substation can run on battery power for about five hours. She said Southwestern Bell failed to notify city officials when the substation switched to battery power.

The warning would have allowed city officials more time to activate an emergency plan, which includes positioning police, paramedics and firefighters at fire stations, convenience stores and major intersections.

"This was human error, as best I can tell," Ms. Savage said. "They conceded it was just a lack of attention to the procedures."

She said additional employee training, coupled with the installation of new equipment, should prevent the problem from recurring.

"I don't think we'll see the same problem again," she said. "I think they have taken a very important step with us."


-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), June 26, 2000.

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