Posted on April 14th, 2015 in News
Imagine for a moment that you are in the middle of an emergency and you are unable to reach 911. It is probably everyone’s worst nightmare but this was exactly what happened to over 11 million CenturyLink customers for over 6 hours across parts of Washington, Minnesota, Colorado, North Carolina, Florida, South Carolina, and Pennsylvania in April of last year. The outage resulted in over 6,600 missed emergency calls that included domestic violence, assault, motor vehicle accidents, a heart attack, an overdose and an intruder breaking into a residence. The FCC was far from please and fined CenturyLink $16 million for the outage which they say was caused by a “software coding issue” which was entirely preventable according to the FCC. It’s the largest 911-related fine ever levied by the government agency.
The FCC takes the welfare of customer safety very seriously. In a statement to the media, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said, “Americans need to be confident that the service they use to reach first responders is reliable and accessible in their time of need and providers have a responsibility to ensure that Americans can use 911 to call for help anytime. When a company fails to live up to its obligations, it will be held accountable.”
Intrado Communications, the 911 support service for CenturyLink, has already reached a settlement of $1.4 million. In addition, Verizon will end up paying $3.4 million to the FCC for a 911 outage of their own. Hopefully, this does not become a trend across provider platforms.