FCC Settles 911 Reliability Investigations with 4 Carriers

On December 17, 2021, the FCC entered into Consent Decrees with AT&T, Intrado, Lumen, and Verizon, resolving investigations into the companies’ compliance with the FCC’s 911 reliability rules during network outages that occurred in 2020.  Each company has agreed to make settlement payments, which total more than $6 million combined, and implement a compliance plan.   The compliance plan requires each carrier to: review and revise operating procedures for compliance with the FCC’s 911 Rules within 90 days of the effective date of the consent decree; within 120 days of the effective date, develop and implement processes in the 911 environment to (1) identify risks that could result in disruptions to 911 service, (2) protect against such risks, (3) detect 911 outages when they occur, (4) respond to such outages with remedial actions, and (5) recover from the outage as soon as practicable; develop a compliance manual within 120 days of the effective date of the consent decree; and implement a compliance training program within 180 days of the effective date of the consent decree.  In addition, the carriers must report any non-compliance with the 911 rules within 15 days of discovery and file compliance reports 120 days, 12 months, 24 months, and 36 months after the effective date of the decree.

AT&T

AT&T’s Consent Decree resolves two investigations into AT&T’s failure to deliver 911 calls and timely notify PSAPs during a 911 outage on September 28, 2020 and failure to deliver 911 calls and delivery of some 911 calls without important number and location information in a separate 911 outage on September 28, 2020.  In the first instance, AT&T’s contractors for 911 aggregation service experienced a network outage that affected AT&T’s ability to deliver 911 calls to 11 PSAPs in multiple states.  The contractor did not discover that the PSAPs were affected until after service was restored.  AT&T notified some PSAPs of the outage shortly after the outage ended, however others were not notified until two weeks later.  In the second instance, AT&T experienced a network outage in South Carolina when two redundant circuit cards overheated in one quadrant of the DWDM equipment and shutdown a dual fan unit, which cooled and stabilized the quadrant.  There was approximately a three hour outage while a new fan was obtained and installed, which resulted in failed 911 calls and delivery of some 911 calls to PSAPs without accompanying ANI or ALI information.

On March 26, 2021 and on March 31, 2021, the Enforcement Bureau sent a letters of inquiry to AT&T regarding the two instances, thus initiating two investigations into AT&T’s compliance with the FCC’s 911 reliability rules.  The Consent Decree resolves the two investigations.  Under the terms of the Consent Decree, AT&T agrees to pay a settlement amount of $160,000 to settle the first investigation and an additional $300,000 to settle the second investigation, for a total settlement payment of 460,000.  In addition, AT&T has agreed to adopt a compliance plan, as described above.

Intrado

Intrado’s Consent Decree resolves an investigation into whether Intrado failed to deliver 911 calls and failed to timely notify PSAPs during a 911 outage on September 28, 2020.  The outage began on September 28, 2020 at 6:30 pm Eastern after preparatory work by Intrado Life & Safety (Intrado’s parent company) to introduce two new global traffic managers (“GTMs”) into its next generation 911 network at a later date.  The GTMs activated Intrado’s next generation 911 network without warning or detection due to an undocumented synchronization condition that led to overwriting of the existing domain name server configurations and caused the network to fail to route 911 calls to PSAPs.  The outage was resolved an hour and 17 minutes after it began, however, it affected ten states and cause the failure of over two thousand 911 calls on Intrado’s network.  PSAPs were not notified until more than thirty minutes after the outage was discovered.

On March 26, 2021, the Enforcement Bureau sent a letter of inquiry regarding the outage, thus initiating an investigation into Intrado’s compliance with the FCC’s 911 reliability rules.  The Consent Decree resolves the investigation.  Under the terms of the Consent Decree Intrado has agreed to pay $1,750,000 and adopt a compliance plan, as described above.

Lumen

Lumen’s Consent Decree resolves an investigation into whether Lumen failed to deliver 911 calls and failed to timely notify Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) during a 911 outage on September 28, 2020.  Lumen (known at the time as CenturyLink) hired Intrado Life & Safety to provide next generation 911 routing services, necessary to carry its 911 call transmission responsibilities.  When Intrado experienced an outage, described above, Lumen experienced an outage in its network as well, causing 911 calls to PSAPS in seven states across the Midwest and southwest to fail to receive calls.  Lumen timely notified some PSAPs of the outage, however, due to problems with its PSAP notification system and a lack of complete information from its vendor regarding the scope of the event, Lumen failed to notify other potentially affected PSAPs or submitted notifications with incomplete information.

On March 26, 2021, the Enforcement Bureau sent a letter of inquiry regarding the outage, thus initiating an investigation into Lumen’s compliance with the FCC’s 911 reliability rules.  The Consent Decree resolves the investigation.  Under the terms of the Consent Decree Lumen has agreed to pay $3,800,000 and adopt a compliance plan, as described above.

Verizon

Verizon’s Consent Decree resolves an investigation into whether Verizon failed to deliver 911 calls during a network outage on May 7, 2020.  On the morning of May 7, 2020, Verizon experienced a network outage in ten states as a result of disruptions in two wireline networks, one belonging to a third-party and one belonging to a Verizon-affiliated provider.  The networks ordinarily provide redundant paths for SS7 traffic, however, while the third-party network was experiencing an outage the affiliated network went out of service for maintenance, resulting in calls utilizing SS7 transport to fail for one hour and 57 minutes, including 911 calls originating on Verizon’s network.

On January 11, 2021, the Enforcement Bureau sent a letter of inquiry regarding the outage, thus initiating an investigation into Verizon’s compliance with the FCC’s 911 reliability rules.  The Consent Decree resolves the investigation.  Under the terms of the Consent Decree Verizon has agreed to pay $274,000 and adopt a compliance plan, as described above.

Please Contact Us if you have any questions.

Recent Posts

June 14, 2024 Weekly Wireless Wrap-Up

Good afternoon from Washington, DC!  Below you will find this week’s Wireless Wrap-Up; your update on the wireless telecommunications regulatory landscape, important wireless decisions, and

Read More