AT&T hit with $5.25M fine for pair of nationwide 911 outages

The Federal Communications Commission announced today that AT&T has agreed to a fine of $5.25 million over a pair of nationwide 911 outages in 2017. The FCC called such outages “unacceptable” in its statement on the matter.

The first outage occurred on March 8th of last year and lasted for five hours, affecting 12,600 calls to 911. The second outage occurred on May 1st and lasted 47 minutes, resulting in 2,600 failed calls.

In a statement to The Verge, the FCC called these sort of outages unacceptable and said robust and reliable 911 service is a “national priority.”

“Such preventable outages are unacceptable,” the FCC wrote in a statement announcing the settlement. “Robust and reliable 911 service is a national priority, as repeatedly expressed by both Congress and the Commission.”

In addition to the fine of $5.25 million, which is a mere drop in the bucket for AT&T, the carrier has also agreed to make changes to its infrastructure to help prevent such outages in the future, and to notify the necessary parties when one does occur. In the case of last year’s outages, the FCC says AT&T did “quickly, clearly, and fully notify” the 911 call centers affected by the outages.

A $5.25 million fine is hardly more than an accounting error for AT&T, but nevertheless it is certainly reassuring to see the FCC holding carriers accountable for outages that might otherwise fly under the radar.

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