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AT&T and Verizon settle FCC 911 outage investigations

Along with CenturyLink and Intrado, they'll pay a combined settlement of over $6 million.
Emergency and urgency, dialing 911 on smartphone screen. Shallow depth of field.
releon8211 via Getty Images
Kris Holt
Kris Holt|@krisholt|December 17, 2021 1:53 PM

AT&T and Verizon are among four providers 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 enact measures 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 an investigation into an outage on May 7th, 2020. The other investigations all related to outages on September 28th, 2020. AT&T will settle two investigations with its $460,000 payment, 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 concerned whether those companies gave 911 call centers timely notifications about the outages. The second AT&T investigation related to whether the provider violated FCC rules by failing to deliver number and location information during the outage.

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“The most important phone call you ever make may be a call to 911,” FCC chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said in a statement. “Sunny day outages can be especially troubling because they occur when the public and 911 call centers least expect it. It’s vital that phone companies prevent these outages wherever possible and provide prompt and sufficient notification to 911 call centers when they do 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 the FCC doesn't take outages impacting 911 calls lightly.

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AT&T and Verizon settle FCC 911 outage investigations