T-Mobile Fined $17.5 Million for 911/EMS Outage
Every hour nearly 30,000 calls are placed to emergency medical services (EMS) in the United States, according to USA Today. These calls are of a protected nature and can be made even using a mobile device that is otherwise out of service.
However, last August, many of T-Mobile’s customers were unable to reach 911, the American standard EMS number, for two periods spanning a few hours each. A glitch in T-Mobile’s infrastructure caused this problem, which the FCC considers to be an oversight on T-Mobile’s part, as proper safeguards are available for the 911 system. Worse yet, T-Mobile decided not to notify the 911 call centers affected by the outage, a crucial choice that could have literally cost lives.
Thus, T-Mobile has agreed to pay a fine of 17.5 million dollars to the Federal Communications Commission and to audit its systems so as to avoid future failures of this kind. The FCC said of the settlement:
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. […] Today’s settlement with T-Mobile represents the largest fine that the FCC has assessed against a carrier in connection with a 911 outage and it is the fourth major enforcement action involving 911 outages that the FCC has taken this year.
Meanwhile, a T-Mobile spokesperson told CNET:
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.
At this time it is unclear whether any real-life situations were affected by the actions of T-Mobile.
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