It appears AT&T will be using at least part of that “Administrative Fee” hike it has hit its wireless customers with to pay a $5.25 million fine to the Federal Communications Commission.
The fine will settle an investigation into a duo of 2017 outages that blocked over 15,000 people from completing 911 calls.
According to the FCC [PDF], during a five hour outage on March 8, 2017, 12,600 unique users across the United States saw their emergency 911 calls fail, while during a 47 minute outage on May 1, 2,600 users had 911 calls fail.
The outages impacted users on the AT&T Voice over LTE network, which is used by many smartphones. They were caused by planned network changes which accidentally interfered with the routing of 911 calls.
During the outage, the FCC says that AT&T failed to “quickly, clearly, and fully notify” affected 911 call centers.
Such preventable outages are unacceptable. Robust and reliable 911 service is a national priority, as repeatedly expressed by both Congress and the Commission. Carriers have a responsibility to both prevent outages and, if they do take place, quickly inform the Commission and affected 911 call centers. FCC rules mandate that mobile phone service providers “transmit all wireless 911 calls” and inform 911 call centers of any 911 network outage that lasts 30 minutes or more.
In addition to the fine, the carrier will also be required to implement system changes to reduce the likelihood of a repeat of the 911 outages, improve its process of notifying 911 call centers, ensure reliable 911 call completion, and file regular reports with the FCC.