On August 8th of 2014, T-Mobile had a three hour outage in which users were unable to dial 911 and get help if needed. The FCC, today announced that they are going to be handing over a fine of about $17.5 million to the nation’s fourth largest carrier, T-Mobile, for that outage. This outage affected around 50 million customers, so it’s quite obvious that this was a nationwide outage for the company, and not just a certain area of the country.
According to the press release issued by the FCC earlier 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,” said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. “Communications providers that do not take necessary steps to ensure that Americans can call 911 will be held to account.”
Shortly after this press release went live, T-Mobile reached out to The Verge to comment on the fine. Stating:
“The safety of our customers is extremely important and we take the responsibility to provide reliable 911 service very seriously… 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 this isn’t great news for T-Mobile, who is in the midst of a pretty amazing comeback, T-Mobile has owned up to this mistake and have worked to make their network better at keeping these outages from happening again. Being able to call 911 during an emergency is probably more important than having adequate data access.
The Verge also notes that typically the FCC wouldn’t pursue carriers in regards to 911 outages. However that has changed recently. With this fine being the fourth one this year, in regards to 911 outages. It appears that the FCC has had a change of heart and now believes that 911 outages are something that should never happen. And I’d have to agree with the commission on this one. You can read the full press release from the FCC in the source links down below.