Press Release Tech Transitions

Public Knowledge Commends FCC for Investigating 911 Service Outage

October 17, 2014 , ,

Today, the Federal Communications Commission's Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau presented a report to the Commission regarding recent outages in 911 service. The report focused on the April 2014 outage in which 11 million people in 7 states lost access to 911 service for 6 hours.

The Bureau found the outage was caused by a preventable coding error by a third-party vendor, and traffic was not re-routed for several hours because the vendor did not take sufficient risk mitigation action. The Bureau issued a set of recommendations to the FCC, including developing new best practices for providers, and conducting further proceedings to ensure 911 reliability. Chairman Wheeler called for the Bureau to provide a “quick and effective response proposal” to ensure reliable 911 service and end-to-end accountability throughout technology transitions.

The following statement can be attributed to Jodie Griffin, Senior Staff Attorney at Public Knowledge:

“The trend of increasingly disastrous 911 outages must be stopped. Technology transitions can offer new opportunities, but they in no way excuse putting the lives of millions of people at risk due to arbitrary and preventable errors. Consumers are relying on the FCC to hold providers accountable and ensure 911 service always works, especially as providers use new technology to concentrate traffic into fewer points of failure, as an error in one state can impact millions of people in another.

“As technology evolves, we must ensure the network continues to serve the enduring values that have made it a success. This is why Public Knowledge supports FCC action to prevent 911 outages, and why we are urging the FCC to adopt strong location accuracy rules for wireless 911 calls. Wherever people are and regardless of the technology they're using, people must know that help will come when they dial 911.

“Public Knowledge commends the FCC for calling for swift action to protect people's access to first responders in life-or-death situations.”