FCC Fines CenturyLink $16 Million, Intrado $1.4 Million for Multi-State 911 Outage

FCC Fines CenturyLink $16 Million, Intrado $1.4 Million for Multi-State 911 Outage
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April 7, 2015

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has resolved its investigation of an April2014 multi-state 911 outage that prevented more than 11 million people in seven states from being able toreach emergency call centers for over six hours.

The FCC's Enforcement Bureau has reached a $16million settlement with CenturyLink and a $1.4 million settlement with Intrado Communications relatedto the companies' failures to meet their emergency call obligations during the 911 outage.

The 911 outage did not stem from an extraordinary natural disaster or other unforeseeable catastrophe;rather, it was a "sunny day" failure that resulted in over 6,600 missed 911 calls, including calls reportedlyinvolving domestic violence, assault, motor vehicle accidents, a heart attack, an overdose, and an intruderbreaking into a residence.

"Americans need to be confident that the service they use to reach first responders is reliable andaccessible in their time of need," said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. "Providers have a responsibility to ensurethat Americans can use 911 to call for help any time. When a company fails to live up to its obligations,it will be held accountable."

Following a comprehensive report by the FCC's Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, the FCC'sEnforcement Bureau extensively investigated the April 2014 outage, focusing on the providers whosesystems served the affected emergency call centers to determine the failures in those 911 systems and innotifying the emergency call centers. The FCC concluded that the outage was preventable if theproviders had implemented basic safeguards and that the providers failed to provide timely notificationsto the affected emergency call centers.

"Delivering 911 calls is one of the most important public safety responsibilities a phone company has," said Travis LeBlanc, Chief of the FCC's Enforcement Bureau. "We will aggressively enforce theCommission's 911 rules whenever the public's trust in 911 is undermined."

In today's settlements, CenturyLink has agreed to pay a $16 million fine and Intrado Communications hasagreed to pay a $1.4 million fine. CenturyLink's settlement represents the largest 911-related fine everassessed by the FCC. CenturyLink served affected emergency call centers throughout Washington, and inMinnesota, and North Carolina. Intrado Communications served emergency call centers in Florida, SouthCarolina, and Pennsylvania. The varying settlement amounts reflect the different numbers of emergencycall centers served by each provider.

Both companies also agreed to adopt similar compliance plans that require them to implement appropriaterisk management processes in the continued rollout of Next-Generation 911 services.

In addition, the companies are required to exercise improved oversight over their Next Generation 911subcontractors and affiliates, maintain up-to-date contact information for emergency call centers, andcoordinate with emergency call centers to periodically review their outage notification procedures.

Last month, the FCC settled with Verizon for $3.4 million in connection with the April 2014 outage. Verizon served emergency call centers in California and agreed to the same compliance terms asCenturyLink and Intrado.