back to article FCC to Verizon: Blocking 911 calls? That's a $3.4m paddlin'

The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has extracted a $3.4m fee from Verizon for its failure to provide customers with emergency phone service last year. The FCC said that it had agreed to the fee with the US telecoms giant after an April 2014 outage that left 11 million people without phone coverage, including for …

  1. 404


    Trying to wrap my mind around $7.8 Beeellion profit in a single quarter, not gross, profit... and I still can't get coverage up at my house...

    Seven Point Eight Billion... just wow.

  2. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Anonymous Coward

      "Thank you for calling Verizon customer service. Your business is important to us.

      If you are experiencing dropped calls, please press 1. If you are experiencing a loss of data service, please press 2. If you are experiencing death, please press 3..."

      1. Sandtitz Silver badge

        "You have selected regicide. If you know the name of the king or queen being murdered, press one."

  3. phil dude

    all phones...

    All phones connected to any network should be able to make an emergency call if at all possible.

    If E911 is a requirement, surely the call itself should be?


  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Precisely the point

    The cable and telecoms can buy all the justice they desire. As noted the fine isn't even an hours revenues for a company documented to routinely defraud and abuse customers. The FCC and FTC are essentially bought and paid politicians who use these trivial pocket change fines as a charade to dupe the naïve public into believing these government agencies are protecting consumers, when in fact they are protecting criminal corporations raping the public, daily.

    1. Gray

      Re: Precisely the point

      But that's precisely the state of American consumer protections ... if rape is inevitable, relax and enjoy it.

    2. Mark 85

      Re: Precisely the point

      All a higher fine would have done is cause Verizon to raise it's rates so no profit would have been lost...

      1. Mad Chaz

        Re: Precisely the point

        They can't do that, the competition will take clients away ... o wait, never mind.

  5. Tom 13

    Looks to me like El Reg is most fortunate Verizon is in the US instead of the UK

    Otherwise you'd be looking at a major defamation suite for this headline, the article and the reporting. From the Executive Summary (you know, the Cliff Notes for Dummies part of the report):

    Based on its review of this record, the Bureau concludes that the April 2014 multistate outage was caused by a preventable software coding error in Colorado-based Intrado, Inc.’s (Intrado) Englewood Emergency Call Management Center (ECMC).

    So, no Verizon was emphatically NOT blocking 911 calls. Instead an independent contractor had a software failure that torpedo all 911 traffic from all telecoms service providers that was headed to certain call areas.

    Verizon's failure was reporting the outage, over which it had no control, to the FCC.

    But I suppose we can't let a silly thing like the facts get in the way of a good two-minute hate now can we.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Looks to me like El Reg is most fortunate Verizon is in the US instead of the UK

      Actually Verizon was blocking the ability of people to contact 911 due to a technical defect in the contractor's system. It's not hate, it's a FACT that customers were unable to contact 911 due to the negligence in writing an implementing defective code.

      A defamation suit would get tossed in the blink of an eye.

    2. jsbg

      Re: Looks to me like El Reg is most fortunate Verizon is in the US instead of the UK

      You are suggesting that by outsourcing a key service to a third-party Verizon is free from any obligations to:

      a. ensure the service is resilient?

      b. provide any replacement and/or alternative?

      c. provide the said service at all?

  6. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    Seems harsh

    I hope most of the penalty was for not reporting the outage in the time required to the FCC, and not for the failure itself.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm playing the world's smallest violin for Verizon (since that money is barely pocket change for them) but it still seems like a harsh penalty for a 6 hour outage.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is just too precious

    In the business district where I work, Verizon phone service for some buildings has been out for months. We switched away from Verizon to VoIP with the local cable company as soon as the cable internet service was available in our building. It is so bad that one of our customers, who was without Verizon services for 3 months, switched to cable after we informed them of its availability and the fact that we had already done so.

    A week ago a Verizon rep walked into our office to try to sell us a [Verizon] service upgrade (FIOS). I almost laughed in their face. After telling them "I already left Verizon" their question was, of course, "Why?", and it gave me much joy to say "Because your service in this area STINKS". And I proceeded to tell them tales of woe.

    Made my week, actually!

    Penalty for a few hours of outage? HA!! Where's the penalty for WEEKS and MONTHS of outages?

  8. Greenaum

    In the UK, as I'm sure we all know, a mobile phone can connect to any physically available network to make an emergency call. All networks are required by law to support this.

    It's a small thing, and there can't be many people who don't agree with the principle of forcing carriers to accept emergency calls. Why don't the USA do the same thing? Surely not worth Verizon or their rivals firing up the lawyers or renting themselves a congressman, to hinder. Verizon might even do it unilaterally, voluntarily, "Wherever you are, Verizon has your safety covered. Even if you're not a customer."

    Might even be positive enough PR, and Christ knows they need some, any, anything positive at all, to be worth the 15 seconds worth of cash it'd cost to implement.

    Assuming whatever weird systems of radio transceiving they use over there could cope with it. I know there's at least a couple of incompatible standards used by different networks over there. Perhaps phones could switch between both in software, would make sense to design them that way, for manufacturing, stock, and sales reasons.

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