The FCC said today that it had settled its investigation into two 911 outages experienced by AT&T customers last year. On March 8th, AT&T wireless phone customers using Voice over LTE weren't able to connect to 911, an issue that lasted around five hours and affected 12,600 people. Then again on May 1st of last year, a second outage, lasting just over 45 minutes, prevented 2,600 911 calls from going through. Planned network changes were the source of the problem, inadvertently interfering with AT&T's 911 call routing. The FCC also said that the company "failed to quickly, clearly and fully notify all affected 911 call centers" following the March outage.
AT&T will pay a $5.25 million fine and must put systems into place that will reduce the likelihood that such outages occur again. It will also have to develop better processes for notifying emergency call centers of future outages and file regular compliance reports with the FCC. "Such preventable outages are unacceptable," the FCC said in a statement. "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."
Update: An AT&T spokesperson told Engadget, "Providing access to emergency 911 services is critically important, and to that end we cooperated with the FCC in their review. These events resulted from planned network changes that inadvertently interfered with the routing of 911 calls. We've taken steps to prevent this from happening again."