Three fined £1.9 million for weak 999 call handling system
As Britain’s telecoms regulator, Ofcom’s responsibilities include fining providers for serious service blunders. Three is the latest company to be hit with one of Ofcom’s invoices, having been fined £1,890,000 today for failing to appropriately protect customer access to emergency services.
Last October, Three notified Ofcom of a temporary outage affecting Kent, Hampshire and parts of London, which turned out to be due to two separate fibre cable breaks. But when the regulator took a closer look at Three’s network configuration, it noticed all emergency call handling was routed through a single data centre, with no redundancy system in place should that go down.
To be clear, at no point were Three subscribers unable to contact emergency services. However, “Three’s emergency call service was vulnerable to a single point of failure,” and thus the way the network was configured was not fit for purpose as far as Ofcom is concerned — no matter how widespread or serious an outage may be, mobile operators are required to “ensure everyone can contact the emergency services at all times.”
Three has since redesigned the network, creating back-up routes that can carry emergency calls in the event of any system meltdowns. Nevertheless, Three must still cough up £1.9 million “given the potential impact on public health and safety” the single point of failure represented — and that includes a 30 percent discount for cooperating with Ofcom during the investigation.