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Verizon to pay $1 million fine over 911 outage

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Credit: Ash H

Verizon has agreed to pay a $1 million fine to resolve a government investigation into an outage which prevented hundreds of Americans from calling 911 during a nearly two-hour period in late 2022, officials say.

The Federal Communications Commission had been investigating whether Verizon violated FCC rules by failing to deliver 911 calls during the outage in December 2022, which affected Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.

To settle the matter, the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau and Verizon Wireless entered into a Consent Decree that requires Verizon to implement a compliance plan and pay a civil penalty of $1,050,000.

FCC rules require wireless service providers to transmit all 911 calls to 911 call centers, which the phone company failed to do during the outage, which lasted 1 hour and 44 minutes. It’s estimated that hundreds of calls failed to get through.

“It is a bedrock principle embedded in the Commission’s rules that reliable 911 service must be available to all persons in the United States at all times,” the agency said in an order.

The outage happened just two months after a similar incident in October 2022. Verizon took a number of measures in response to the incident but certain failures happened again, resulting in the second outage.

“When you call 911 in an emergency, it’s critical that your call goes through,” FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said in a statement on Tuesday. “Today’s action is part of the FCC’s ongoing effort to ensure that the public has reliable communications, including access to 911.”

As part of Tuesday’s settlement, Verizon agreed to implement a robust compliance plan which is designed to prevent future failures and implements best practices, including 911 risk assessments and new processes to implement security policy updates.

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