SAN FRANCISCO – T-Mobile will pay a $17.5 million fine to the Federal Communications Commission to resolve charges brought against the carrier for two 911 outages last summer that prevented customers from reaching emergency services for three hours, the FCC said in a statement Friday.
Every hour, some 27,400 calls are placed nationwide to 911 call centers. There were two nationwide T-Mobile outages on Aug. 8, 2014, during which time many of the mobile carrier’s then 50 million subscribers were unable to reach first responders. The FCC charged that the incidents could have been prevented if T-Mobile had installed proper safeguards to its 911 system. The agency also said that T-Mobile failed to alert 911 call centers affected by the outage.
In addition to paying the fine, T-Mobile is obliged to identify and protect against flaws in its operations that could lead to future outages.
“The Commission has no higher priority than ensuring the reliability and resilience of our nation’s communications networks so that consumers can reach public safety in their time of need,” FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said in a statement. “Communications providers that do not take necessary steps to ensure that Americans can call 911 will be held to account.”
This is the fourth 911-related enforcement action by the FCC this year. In April, the FCC entered a $16 million settlement with CenturyLink and a $1.4 million settlement with Intrado Communications in connection with an April 2014 multi-state 911 outage that lasted for over six hours. In March, the FCC settled with Verizon for $3.4 million in connection with the same April 2014 outage.
“We have made significant changes and improvements across a number of our systems since last year, and we will continue working to improve these critical systems with our partners to provide the standard of service our customers rightly expect from T-Mobile,” the Bellevue, Wash.-based company said in a statement emailed to the Seattle Times.
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