T-Mobile Enters Consent Decree to Resolve FCC’s 911 Outage Investigation

On November 23, 2021, the Enforcement Bureau (the “Bureau”) released an Order resolving the FCC’s investigation into whether T-Mobile USA, Inc. (“T-Mobile”) failed to comply with the FCC’s 911 rules.  The FCC initiated the investigation after T-Mobile’s network experienced a 12 hour and 13 minute outage on June 15, 2020 that caused (1) the complete failure of more than 23,000 911 calls, (2) more than 23,000 calls to 911 without location information available, and (3) more than 20,000 calls to PSAPs without call back information made available.

The Bureau and T-Mobile have entered into a Consent Decree, under which T-Mobile will pay a $19.5 million settlement and will implement a compliance plan.  As a part of the compliance plan, T-Mobile is required to improve its PSAP notification system, which includes providing PSAPs with a wide array of information about any potential outages and providing follow-up notices within two hours of the original outage notification.  T-Mobile is also required to take a number of actions with respect to its network, including (1) ensuring that IMS core wireless network elements will not be prevented from delivering 911 calls during and immediately following the integration of the new backhaul aggregation router devices or link failure situations, (2) implementing a test program for new elements and major software upgrades to its IMS core wireless network elements used in the delivery of 911 calls, (3) implementing measures to detect disruptions in 911 service in dedicated 911 and other IMS core wireless network elements used to deliver 911 calls under its direct control, including without limitation disruptions in 911 service which may be caused by congestion resulting from multiple reregistration attempts; and (4) maintaining procedures sufficient to make separate communications channels available to backhaul aggregation router devices due to outages.

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