FCC Slams T-Mobile With $17.5 Million Fine For Mobile 911 Outages


Following two 911 outages last year that kept wireless customers from being able to each emergency dispatchers and responders, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is slamming T-Mobile with a $17.5 million fine.

T-Mobile and the FCC settled the case after two related, but separate, outages in August of last year. Investigators said that these outages could have been avoided if the uncarrier had “implemented appropriate safeguards.”

The outages prevented almost all of T-Mobile’s then 50 million customers from being able to get a hold of reaching 911 dispatchers, and lasted for roughly three hours. The investigation found that T-Mobile didn’t alert 911 call centers affected by these outages in a quick and timely manner. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler spoke of accountability for T-Mobile’s actions in a statement today:

“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. Communications providers that do not take necessary steps to ensure that Americans can call 911 will be held to account.”

The uncarrier was slammed with the largest fine against a company for a 911 disruption. According to the FCC it’s also the fourth case of this nature. CenturyLink received a $16 million fine after a multi-state outage in April 2014. There was another with Verizon Communications that resulted in a $3.4 million settlement and Intrado Communications was slammed with a 1.4 million settlement for an outage as well.

It’s not just money that T-Mobile will have to shell out for the outages. The company must also identify potential risks that could lead to 911 outages in the future and agree that affected call centers will be alerted should a future outage occur.

T-Mobile released a statement saying that while the company has already improved its systems, it will continue to do so. As it said:

“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.”

While there’s no telling if and when another outage will occur, hopefully the uncarrier has improved its systems well enough to avoid another hefty fine. Do you think the FCC fine was big enough? Let us know in the comments below, or on Google+, Twitter, or Facebook.

  Source: Seattle Times
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