Verizon agrees to pay a stiff fine after causing a 911 outage in six states

Verizon agrees to pay a stiff fine after causing a 911 outage in six states
Verizon is a little poorer today after the nation's largest wireless provider agreed to pay a fine of $1,050,000 for an outage back in December 2022. With its network down, hundreds of 911 calls made by the wireless firm's customers in six states failed to connect. The U.S. Treasury is the beneficiary of Verizon's fine and the FCC announced the settlement on Tuesday. Verizon was charged with failing to deliver 911 calls in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee for one hour and 44 minutes.

The hundreds of 911 calls that failed to get connected were the result of an outage that Verizon was experiencing that day. The cause of the outage was a "flawed security policy update file," according to the Consent Decree that the FCC also released yesterday. Besides paying the seven-digit fine, Verizon agreed to a compliance plan to make sure that it will be in compliance with FCC regulations regarding 911 calls in the future.

The FCC said in its press release, "As Congress and the Commission have found, robust and reliable 911 service is a critical national priority. Those calling first responders must be able to rely on their calls being completed." Current FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel weighed in with a statement of her own. (By the way, Jessica's brother Brian is the drummer for Guster). The agency's chairwoman said, "When you call 911 in an emergency, it’s critical that your call goes through. Today's action is part of the FCC's ongoing effort to
ensure that the public has reliable communications, including access to 911."

FCC rules require that all calls made to 911 be sent to a 911 call center. What might have made the FCC a little upset was that the same thing had happened with Verizon just two months earlier in October 2022. After that outage, Verizon said that it took action to prevent the same problems from repeating only to have it reoccur not too long afterwards.

Speaking about the settlement reached with Verizon, Loyaan A. Egal, Chief of the Enforcement Bureau, stated, "The Enforcement Bureau takes any potential violations of the Commission’s 911 rules extremely seriously. Sunny day outages, as occurred here, can be especially troubling because they occur when the public and 911 call centers least expect it. We are committed to ensuring communications providers uphold their responsibilities in providing critical 911 services to the American public."

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Considering that the December outage was the second time that the same issue, which was said to be caused by a mistake made by the carrier, knocked out Verizon's network and left hundreds of 911 calls unanswered, some of you might think that Verizon got off too easy. Let me know what you think by leaving a comment below.

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