Verizon: Cut fiber line caused Central Florida service outage

- Verizon Wireless has confirmed the cause of a service outage that affected thousands of customers in Central Florida Thursday night into Friday morning.

A representative from Verizon Wireless says a fiber line was cut, causing service to be disrupted at around 800 cell tower sites.

The company did not comment on who was responsible for cutting the line or how it happened.

Customers, meanwhile, panicked as they realized they could not make phone calls, send or receive messages, or even check the weather - unless they were connected to wi-fi. 

Their service was back on just before 3 a.m. Friday.

Some agencies put out notifications about the outage. The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office says the service outage did not seem to impact the number of calls they got to its 911 lines.

HCSO says it got 247 calls Thursday night and Friday morning, while during the same time period the day before, they had 235.

"It seemed like the calls were coming in as normal," said Wendy Young, a manager of communications at HCSO. "If they had an emergency, they were finding a way to call 911."

The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office says there is an app called Tip 411 that allows a user to message, in real time, with dispatchers, but the user still must be connected to wi-fi.

"You can submit a tip anonymously," said Young. "However, this would have been a great case, if someone needed to contact us, we always receive it and have it up."

HCSO officials say if you need to call 911, but are without a working device, try asking a neighbor or workers at a nearby store.

Or you can keep a landline at home, just in case.

"A lot of people don't use landlines," said Young. "They think they are antiquated. But it is actually the most up-to-date thing you can use for the exact location."

Young says do not use Facebook or Twitter to try to reach emergency services. Many agencies do not monitor their messages 24/7.

HCSO says by next year, it will have a service allowing people to send text messages to 911 dispatchers.

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