AT&T and Verizon Settle FCC 911 Fault Investigations


AT&T and Verizon are among four carriers that have agreed to settle FCC investigations into outages that led to failed 911 calls. CenturyLink (now Lumen Technologies) and Intrado will also pay settlements and take steps to ensure they adhere to the agency’s 911 rules.

Verizon (Engadget’s former parent company) will pay $274,000, the smallest settlement of the four, to resolve a May 7, 2020 outage investigation. The other investigations all related to outages on September 28, 2020. AT&T will settle two investigations with the payment of $460,000, while CenturyLink and Intrado will pay $3.8 million and $1.75 million, respectively.

In addition to failed 911 calls, the FCC says the investigations into AT&T, CenturyLink and Intrado questioned whether those companies notified 911 call centers about the outages in a timely manner. The second AT&T investigation addressed whether the carrier violated FCC rules by failing to provide number and location information during the outage.

“The most important call you ever make may be a call to 911,” FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel said in a statement. “Sunday outages can be especially troubling because they occur when the public and 911 call centers least expect it. It is vital that telephone companies prevent these outages whenever possible and provide timely and adequate notification to 911 call centers when they occur.”

The settlements pale in comparison to the $19.5 million T-Mobile agreed to pay to resolve an investigation into a 12-hour outage in June 2020. Still, they should at least serve as a reminder that the FCC doesn’t take power outages that affect 911 calls lightly.

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