AT&T Fined $5.25M for Two 911 Outages that Affected 15,000+ Emergency Calls
AT&T is paying the Federal Communications Commission a $5.25 million fine to settle an investigation into a pair of 2017 outages that blocked over 15,000 people from making 911 calls.
According to the FCC [PDF], during a five hour outage on March 8, 2017, 12,600 unique users across the United States saw their emergency 911 calls fail, while during a 47 minute outage on May 1, 2,600 users had 911 calls fail.
The outages, which impacted AT&T’s Voice over LTE network used by many modern smartphones, were caused by planned network changes that were implemented on those days that inadvertently interfered with the routing of 911 calls.
During the March outage, the FCC says that AT&T also failed to “quickly, clearly, and fully notify” affected 911 call centers. These kinds of outages are “unacceptable” and according to the FFC, carriers have a responsibility to both prevent outages and in the event of an outage, notify call centers immediately.
Such preventable outages are unacceptable. Robust and reliable 911 service is a national priority, as repeatedly expressed by both Congress and the Commission. Carriers have a responsibility to both prevent outages and, if they do take place, quickly inform the Commission and affected 911 call centers. FCC rules mandate that mobile phone service providers “transmit all wireless 911 calls” and inform 911 call centers of any 911 network outage that lasts 30 minutes or more.
In addition to paying a $5.25 million fine to end the investigation, AT&T is also required to implement “proactive system changes” to reduce the likelihood and impact of future 911 outages, improve its processes for notifying 911 call centers of future outages, ensure reliable 911 call completion, and file regular compliance reports with the FCC.
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