T-Mobile to pay $19.5m over outage that resulted in thousands of failed 911 calls

T-Mobile has agreed to pay $19.5m (£14.5m) to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for thousands of failed 911 calls caused by an outage in 2020.

The FCC said on Tuesday the wireless carrier was at fault for more than 23,000 911 calls that failed in June 2020, in an outage that was described as “a complete failure”.

T-Mobile, as part of an agreement with the FCC, will commit to improving communications of outages to emergency call centres, as well as pay $19.5m (£14.5m).

An FCC investigation in October 2020 found that more than 250 million calls to T-Mobile subscribers failed because of the outage, and that 41 per cent of calls attempted did not complete fully.

The FCC investigation also found that the outage was caused “by an equipment failure and then exacerbated by a network routing misconfiguration that occurred when T-Mobile introduced a new router into its network.”

T-Mobile, in a statement on Tuesday, said it has “built resiliency into our emergency systems to ensure that our 911 elements are available when they’re needed.”

It continued: “Following this outage, we immediately took additional steps to further enhance our network to prevent this type of event from happening in the future.”

Then-FCC chairman Ajit Pai said the FCC investigation showed that T-Mobile did not follow established network reliability best practices that could have potentially prevented or mitigated the outage.

T-Mobile suggested in 2020 that 18 per cent of calls did not complete fully during the outage, and admitted that congestion “likely required many of its subscribers to make 2-3 call attempts before successfully connecting.”

Additional reporting by Reuters.

Douglas Mateo

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