The fine is the largest against a company for a 911 disruption, and is the fourth such FCC case this year.
T-Mobile US will pay a $17.5 million fine after two 911 outages last year kept wireless customers from being able to reach emergency responders, according to the Federal Communications Commission.
The FCC and Bellevue-based T-Mobile settled the case following two separate outages in August 2014 that investigators said could have been avoided, according to a statement Friday.
Both outages were nationwide, preventing almost all of T- Mobile’s then 50 million customers from reaching 911 operators for almost three hours if they needed help. T-Mobile failed to alert 911 call centers affected by the outages in a timely manner, the investigation found.
The fine is the largest against a company for a 911 disruption, and is the fourth such FCC case this year, according to the statement. An April 2014 multistate outage led to settlements of $16 million with CenturyLink, $1.4 million with Intrado Communications and $3.4 million with Verizon Communications.
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In addition to paying the fine, T-Mobile must identify potential risks that could lead to future 911 outages and agree to alert affected call centers if a future outage occurs.
“We have made significant changes and improvements across a number of our systems since last year, and we will continue working to improve these critical systems with our partners to provide the standard of service our customers rightly expect from T-Mobile,” the company said in an emailed statement.
In December, T-Mobile agreed to pay at least $90 million to settle a joint FCC and Federal Trade Commission investigation into allegations that the company billed customers millions of dollars for services such as SMS horoscopes and celebrity gossip, a practice known in the industry as cramming.