Telephone Company Fined $100,000 for Sending 911 Calls to Auto-Recording

Telephone Company Fined $100,000 for Sending 911 Calls to Auto-Recording
March 20, 2015

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has fined Hinton Telephone Company $100,000 after an investigation showed that the carrier failed to direct 911 calls to local emergency responders.

The investigation, led by the FCC's Enforcement Bureau, showed that Hinton routed emergency 911 calls for customers in Oklahoma to an automated operator message that directed callers to "hang up and dial 911" to report an emergency. Only at the end of the long message were callers presented an option to press "0" to reach an operator.

"The American public universally relies upon 911 in a time of crisis," said Travis LeBlanc, Chief of the Enforcement Bureau. "It is unacceptable for any company to put the health and safety of the public at risk by sending 911 calls to voicemail or an automated message."

Under the Commission's rules, providers have an obligation to route 911 calls to a public safety answering point or an appropriate local emergency authority.

In May 2013, the FCC received a complaint that Hinton was not providing basic 911 service to its Caddo County, Oklahoma, customers. Hinton was aware of the problem for several months and did not fix it. Hinton only began routing 911 calls directly to local emergency responders after FCC investigators demanded that they do so.

In its Order against Hinton, the FCC says that the telephone company failed to use reasonable judgment when it knowingly routed 911 calls to an automated operator message.