Saturday, July 13, 2024

Verizon has gotten into some legal trouble


Verizon banner splashed across iPhone screen.Verizon

One of the most vital services people rely on is the ability to call 911 during an emergency. Unfortunately, there’s been a worrying increase in 911 outages, with one happening as recently as last week in Massachusetts and reports of 911 not even answering in Jersey City. Verizon has been one of the first companies to face the consequences for these failures, getting slapped with a $1.05 million fine by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to settle a 2022 outage.

The incident in December 2022 resulted in a one-hour, 44-minute 911 outage that prevented hundreds of emergency calls in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. This Verizon 911 outage followed another one in October 2022. According to the FCC, despite Verizon attempting mitigation efforts, “certain failures recurred,” prompting the FCC to fine Verizon.

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“When you call 911 in an emergency, it’s critical that your call goes through,” FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said in a statement. “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 the Consent Decree with the FCC, Verizon is required to implement a compliance plan to adhere to FCC 911 rules and best practices, including risk assessments and security-related measures.

“The Enforcement Bureau takes any potential violations of the Commission’s 911 rules extremely seriously. Sunny day outages, as occurred here, can be especially troubling because they occur when the public and 911 call centers least expect it,” said Loyaan A. Egal, chief of the FCC Enforcement Bureau. “We are committed to ensuring communications providers uphold their responsibilities in providing critical 911 services to the American public.”

While the fine isn’t very substantial for a company that made $4.7 billion in the first quarter of 2024, it is encouraging to see the FCC taking the problem seriously. Hopefully, this will encourage other service providers to take proactive measures to prevent future 911 outages.

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