Having access to 911 calls is of utmost importance to Americans. Being able to make these calls in time can be the difference between life and death, so the FCC takes it very seriously when a carrier has an outage in which calls can’t be routed to the nation’s emergency line.
The latest major 911 outage came from T-Mobile, in August 8, 2014. There were a couple nationwide blackouts this day, accounting for about 3 hours of down time. That is a long time of having no 911 access, especially considering T-Mobile serves about 55 million subscribers. The number was a bit lower when the event took place, at about 50 million, but we are sure more than a few of them needed help during this outage.
T-Mobile is making amends by paying $17.5 million USD in fees. In addition, they are taking responsibility and incorporating a compliance program to strengthen their 911 network communications.
- In particular, T-Mobile will develop and implement processes to:
- Identify risks that could result in disruptions to 911 service;
- Protect against such risks;
- Detect future 911 outages;
- Respond with remedial actions, including prompt notification to affected 911 call centers; and
- Recover from such outages on a timely basis.
T-Mobile’s prevention methods (or lack thereof) were not the single issue in this investigation. Matters worsened upon realizing the carrier hadn’t notified affected 911 call centers in a timely fashion, which is a requisite from the FCC.
The Commission has adopted a number of rules intended to ensure seamless, ubiquitous, and reliable 911 service nationwide. These rules include the obligation for wireless carriers to implement 911 routing and delivery systems to ensure that 911 calls are transmitted to the appropriate 911 emergency call centers and to notify those call centers of 911 service outages lasting longer than 30 minutes.
That’s a hefty chunk of cash t-Mobile has to fork out, though we don’t know how significant of a fee that would be for a large carrier. Regardless, seeing them improving their systems and keeping 911 accessible is golden. T-Mobile has been doing great improving their services with Uncarrier, offering deals no other carrier ever brought to the table. I am not sure I would give up 911 for all that, though.
Did any of you happen to notice these outages last year? It would be interesting to hear your take on this.