The FCC said on Thursday it will investigate why AT&T wireless subscribers in several states could not make emergency 911 calls late Wednesday that spanned at least 14 states.
“Every call to 911 must go through,” said Chairman Ajit Pai in a news release. “So when I first learned of yesterday’s outage, I immediately directed FCC staff to contact AT&T about it and the company’s efforts to restore access to emergency services to the American public. I also spoke with Randall Stephenson, AT&T’s chief executive officer, and stressed the urgent need to restore service and to communicate with first responders, as well as AT&T customers, about the status of operations. Additionally, I announced last night that I have directed Commission staff to track down the root cause of this outage.”
Although AT&T said in a statement Wednesday night that “Service has been restored for wireless customers affected by an issue connecting to 911. We apologize to those affected,” the carrier did not say how and when the problem began.
“The FCC’s public safety professionals are on the case,” said Lisa Fowlkes, the acting head of the agency’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau. “Access to 911 emergency services is essential for all Americans, especially the most vulnerable. We will fully investigate this outage and determine the root cause and its impact.”
AT&T doesn’t have exclusivity on faulty 911 software. The FCC has previously fined carriers that had 911 outages.
T-Mobile had two separate outages on one day in August 2014 that together lasted three hours. The carrier reached a $17.5 million settlement with the FCC in 2015.