The Federal Communications Commission just settled an investigation into AT&T 911 outages from last year, hitting the telecom company with a $5.25 million fine. The FCC’s Enforcement Bureau made the announcement on Thursday, stating that “such preventable outages are unacceptable.”
Aside from the fine—which is really a drop in the bucket for the billion-dollar behemoth—AT&T must also make changes and enhancements to its systems to mitigate and soften the blow of future outages, as well as “regularly file compliance reports with the FCC.”
According to FCC rules, AT&T was required to “transmit all wireless 911 calls” as well as let emergency call centers know about outages if they last longer than 30 minutes. The two AT&T 911 outages investigated by the FCC, which occurred on March 8 and May 1 of 2017, lasted about five hours and 47 minutes, respectively. Around 12,600 users were unable to complete 911 calls during the March outage, with 2,600 failed 911 calls during the May outage.
“The FCC’s investigation also found that, during the March outage, the company failed to quickly, clearly, and fully notify all affected 911 call centers,” the news release states.
Recently, former AT&T employees accused leadership of encouraging its sales teams to use unethical practices to drive up charges for unsuspecting and nonconsenting customers. Another recent report found that AT&T was slipping in extra “administrative” fees into its customers monthly phone bills, enabling the company to potentially make an additional $800 million a year. And if you’re deeply unsettled by the reach and power of the telecom giant, check out this recent ruling from a federal judge, approving the merge of AT&T and Time Warner.