The FCC’s Enforcement Bureau has settled investigations into AT&T, Lumen Technologies (CenturyLink at the time), Intrado, and Verizon for 911 outages last year.

Together, the companies will pay $6 million for the outages, and for failing to alert the FCC and 911 operators about the outages. The companies also had to agree to implement a compliance plan.

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– Thinkstock / pedrosala / DCD

“The most important phone call you ever make may be a call to 911,” said FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel. “Sunny day outages can be especially troubling because they occur when the public and 911 call centers least expect it."

She added: "It’s vital that phone companies prevent these outages wherever possible and provide prompt and sufficient notification to 911 call centers when they do occur."

Lumen was given the biggest fine, at $3.8m, for an outage on September 28, 2020. The company said that it had subcontracted to Intrado to provide critical NG911 routing services, but that Intrado made a configuration error while introducing two new Global Traffic Managers (GTMs) into its NG911 facilities.

This caused a one hour and 17 minute outage of the NG911 services CenturyLink/Lumen provided as a covered 911 service provider to certain Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) in Arizona, Colorado, Minnesota, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Utah.

Lumen told some of the PSAPs about the outage on time, but failed to tell others due to problems with its PSAP notification system, and a lack of complete information from its vendor.

Intrado will pay $1.75m.

For their outages and lack of communication, AT&T was fined $460,000 and Verizon was fined $274,000.

The fines and settlements come a month after T-Mobile was fined $19.5 million for its June 2020 outage, which lasted 12 hours and affected more than 23,000 911 calls - as well as other services.

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