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

In an era where reliable emergency communication is crucial, any disruption to 911 services can have severe consequences. This article discusses Verizon’s recent penalty for a significant outage that affected emergency calls in multiple states. The outage, which left hundreds of 911 calls unanswered, highlights the importance of robust and dependable 911 services and the regulatory measures in place to ensure compliance.

Verizon, the nation’s largest wireless provider, agreed to pay a $1,050,000 fine following an outage in December 2022. This disruption resulted in hundreds of 911 calls failing to connect in six states: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. The U.S. Treasury received the fine, and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced the settlement on Tuesday. The outage, lasting one hour and 44 minutes, was attributed to a “flawed security policy update file,” as stated in the FCC’s Consent Decree.

In addition to the monetary penalty, Verizon committed to a compliance plan to adhere to FCC regulations regarding 911 calls in the future. The FCC emphasized the critical importance of reliable 911 services, with FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel stating, “When you call 911 in an emergency, your call must go through.” This action is part of the FCC’s ongoing effort to ensure that emergency calls are reliably connected.

FCC rules mandate that all 911 calls must reach a 911 call center. The incident in December was not the first for Verizon; a similar outage occurred in October 2022. Despite Verizon’s assurances that measures were taken to prevent recurrence, the same issue reappeared, leading to significant concern.

Loyaan A. Egal, Chief of the Enforcement Bureau, highlighted the seriousness of the violations, particularly “sunny day outages” that occur unexpectedly. “We are committed to ensuring communications providers uphold their responsibilities in providing critical 911 services to the American public,” Egal stated.

Given that the December outage was Verizon’s second such incident within a short period, some may view the $1,050,000 fine as insufficient. Nonetheless, the settlement serves as a reminder of the importance of reliable emergency communication and the need for stringent compliance with regulatory standards.

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