Hawaiian Telcom has resolved an issue that caused intermittent phone issues statewide Wednesday.
A spokeswoman says it was “highly unusual” and different from 911 outages in the past. The cause was determined to be a problem with call routing equipment, which allowed only some voice calls to complete.
Approximately 250 customers were affected, including the statewide 911 system.
From approximately 6-9 a.m., Hawaiian Telcom said some voice calls did not go through and callers may have heard a fast busy or an “All circuits are busy” message.
Hawaiian Telcom implemented a temporary routing solution that resolved the majority of calling issues, but small pockets of customers continued to experience intermittent issues that had to be resolved on a case-by-case basis until 2 p.m.
Internet and data services were not affected.
Kauai and Hawaii counties issued alerts that their 911 services were down, followed by statements from Maui County and the Honolulu Police Department later in the day.
Kauai County reported its phone services were restored at around 10:30 a.m.
Maui County issued a statement at around 11:15 a.m. that network issues with 911 calls were resolved. This included phone services for the islands of Molokai and Lanai.
According to HPD, 911 services were fully restored at 2:20 p.m. Before then, the public was asked to limit 911 calls to emergencies only, and if calls don’t go through, mobile users were advised to send a text to 911.
A spokeswoman says only one text message was received during the problem period, and it appeared to be accidental.
“These issues are frustrating to customers and a detriment to public safety. Are there safeguards put in place to ensure this doesn’t affect 911 calls again?” KHON2 asked.
“We take this seriously, obviously. Any time our customers don’t have access to services, it’s not a good thing,” said Hawaiian Telcom spokeswoman Su Shin. “In this situation, however, we have to continue to dig in and investigate the root cause so that we can implement the right solutions.”
Hawaiian Telcom says it was in constant contact with county emergency responders.
“It’s slightly different than if we were experiencing a 911 system issue. That would have triggered an immediate contact with them,” explained Shin.
“Is there are any way the 911 phone system can be on its own separate system, so it’s not affected with the other customers?” KHON2 asked.
“I don’t have a clear answer to that. I’m sure they’ll look into that among other things,” Shin replied.
Hilo Medical Center and Kaiser Permanente say they experienced phone issues as well.
Hawaiian Telcom says technicians are continuing to monitor the situation closely and plan to implement solutions to ensure this does not re-occur.
“We apologize to our customers for the impact. We are dedicated to make sure this doesn’t happen again,” said Shin.
Hawaiian Telcom customers that are experiencing issues with their service can go to hawaiiantel.com/support and select “Chat with Us” or “Submit Support Request.”