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After 911 Debacle, AT&T Set to Pay $5.25 million

Last week on Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission informed listening members of the press that AT&T had pledged to amend its policies to avert possible scenarios where 911 calls fail to go through. The FCC revealed that AT&T’s 911 issue in 2017 was as a result of planned system upgrades by the company. In doing so, the company had overlooked the need to route 911 calls during the network changes. In response, AT&T released information that they had taken necessary steps to avoid such situations from ever happening again.

The FCC claims that the March 2017, a 5-hour failure on AT&T’s networks led to about 12,600 unique users’ calls not going through. In May 2017, a subsequent 47 minutes outage led to about 2,600 unsuccessful 911 calls

AT&T made a point of stating that they were in agreement with the review carried out and agreed to ensure that emergency 911 services are always at the ready. Another company, Verizon Communications Inc (VZ.N) pledged to pay up on it’s imposed $3.4 million fine after 750,000 consumers in 9 Californian counties were unable to access emergency 911 services over a six-hour window in April 2014. CenturyLink Ic (CTL.N) also agreed to cough up $16 million in settlement fees after they locked out consumers from accessing 911 emergency services in April 2014.

Information released by the FCC shows that in April 2014, service outages by the mobile carriers lead to 6,600 failed 911 calls. Most of the emergency calls were centered upon incidences involving assault, heart attacks, domestic violence, burglaries, and overdoses. The FCC also revealed that the April 2014 outage was attributed to an avoidable software coding error. The glitch occurred at a call management center in the heart of Colorado.


Interestingly, the high earnings were recorded even before the company revealed profits from Time Warner. Despite the low figures imposed, the measure will serve as a warning to mobile carriers. FCC faulted AT&T for failing to quickly and candidly notify customers about the fault in their call centers. Going forward, the FCC and AT&T have agreed to continually communicate on all matters, given the fact that AT&T is expected to file regular reports.

Following the disruption, emergency city, county and law enforcement agents went on social media pages over the next couple of hours to inform the masses about the service loss. The Monongalia County Homeland Security Emergency Management Agency in  West Virginia was the first to report the issue on their Facebook page. In Indiana, the Hendricks County Communications Center, with dispatch points for fire, emergency and police service agencies mentioned that a handful number of AT&T customers could not connect to 911 emergency services.


After two 911 emergency service outages on a national scale, T Mobile US Inc (TMUS.O) was hit with a $17.5 million settlement in 2015. The two independent incidences lasted about 3 hours and affected nearly all 50 million customers using T-Mobile as their carrier

Ajit Pai, the chairperson of the Federal Communications Commission had shared on Twitter that the agency would look into the issue after receiving reports about the matter. The AT&T outage was cited by a number of officials in 14 states – West Virginia, Virginia, Texas, Tennessee, Maryland, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Colorado, California, Florida, Alabama, and Arkansas. Most of them cited that the situation was sporadic while others divulged that the issue was widespread on a national scale.

In some Fort Worth, Corpus Christi and other Texan cities gave various numbers for people to call in case they have an emergency situation that needs handling. In Florida, fire department officials were alerted of the existing issue.

The nonprofit National Emergency Number Association Group mentioned that during the AT&T outage, 911 callers kept on receiving fast busy signals. The nonprofit outfit shared that the issue at hand depicted the immediate need for 911 centers in America to adopt new robust technologies capable of handling outages when they do occur.

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