AT&T Fined $5.25M for 2017 9-1-1 Outages
Thursday, June 28, 2018 | Comments

The FCC’s Enforcement Bureau settled an investigation into AT&T Mobility’s 9-1-1 outages of March and May 2017 with a $5.25 million fine and other conditions. AT&T must implement proactive system changes to reduce the likelihood and impact of future 9-1-1 outages, improve processes for notifying 9-1-1 call centers of any future outages, ensure reliable 9-1-1 call completion, and regularly file compliance reports with the FCC.

On March 8, 2017, and May 1, 2017, AT&T’s wireless phone customers across the country experienced 9-1-1 service outages on the company’s voice over Long Term Evolution (VoLTE) network. Planned network changes implemented by AT&T on those days inadvertently interfered with the company’s routing of 9-1-1 calls.

The March outage lasted about five hours, resulting in the failure of 9-1-1 calls from some 12,600 unique users. The May outage lasted about 47 minutes, resulting in 2,600 failed 9-1-1 calls. The FCC’s investigation also found that, during the March outage, the company failed to quickly, clearly and fully notify all affected 9-1-1 call centers.

“Such preventable outages are unacceptable,” the FCC said in a notice. “Robust and reliable 9-1-1 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 9-1-1 call centers.”

FCC rules mandate that mobile phone service providers “transmit all wireless 9-1-1 calls” and inform 9-1-1 call centers of any 9-1-1 network outage that lasts 30 minutes or more.

A May 2017 report from the FCC found that the March outage likely could have been avoided. The FCC’s Enforcement Bureau also opened an investigation into possible legal violations related to both the March and May outages, which resulted in the settlement.

“Providing access to emergency 9-1-1 services is critically important, and to that end, we cooperated with the FCC in their review,” said an AT&T spokesperson. “These events resulted from planned network changes that inadvertently interfered with the routing of 9-1-1 calls. We’ve taken steps to prevent this from happening again.”

The FCC’s consent decree is here.

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