Carrier Will Implement Internal Process Changes & Pay $5.25 Million Fine to Conclude FCC Investigation
WASHINGTON, June 28, 2018—The Federal Communications Commission’s Enforcement Bureau today settled an investigation into AT&T Mobility’s 911 outages of March and May 2017. As a condition of the settlement, the company must pay a $5.25 million fine, implement proactive system changes to reduce the likelihood and impact of future 911 outages, improve processes for notifying 911 call centers of any future outages, ensure reliable 911 call completion, and regularly file compliance reports with the FCC.
On March 8, 2017, and again on May 1, 2017, AT&T’s wireless phone customers across the country experienced 911 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 911 calls. The March outage lasted approximately five hours, resulting in the failure of 911 calls from some 12,600 unique users. The May outage lasted approximately 47 minutes, resulting in 2,600 failed 911 calls. The FCC’s investigation also found that, during the March outage, the company failed to quickly, clearly, and fully notify all affected 911 call centers (formally known as Public Safety Answering Points (“PSAPs”)).
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.
After the March outage, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai called for an investigation into what had occurred. The FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau led the initial investigation, presenting its findings to the Commissioners and publishing a report on them. The FCC’s Enforcement Bureau also opened an investigation into possible legal violations related to both the March and May outages. This investigation resulted in today’s settlement.