Lots of tech news happens in the course of the week and sometimes you have to skip stuff that doesn't have a conclusion yet. This happened last year, when T-Mobile had two nationwide 911 outages in the month of August. This meant that emergency calls were not connecting to emergency service provider, which is a really big deal. The reason this is being talked about now, however, is because the Federal Communications Commission has now issued a fine for those outages.
Because of the incidents, T-Mobile will have to pay out $17.5 million to the FCC and will also have to put in place a compliance program that includes failovers for the company in order to prevent an outage from happening again in the future.
The FCC document reports that on August 8th, 2014, T-Mobile had two 911 outages, for a total of three hours without service. T-Mobile users dialing 911 at that time were unable to place the call, let alone reach a dispatcher. The FCC also said that T-Mobile took way too long on letting emergency service providers know about the problem. Additionally, T-Mobile did not have the necessary backups in place to counter a drop in coverage at this magnitude.
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said in a statement that he will be holding services accountable if these issues persist.
The Commission has no higher priority than ensuring the reliability and resilience of our nation's communications networks so that consumers can reach public safety in their time of need. Communications providers that do not take necessary steps to ensure that Americans can call 911 will be held to account.
For reference, the FCC says there are just over 27,000 emergency calls places in the US from all cell phone providers every hour. Considering T-Mobile makes up a large portion of the consumer cell phone base, two outages totaling three hours is a problem that needs to be rectified.
A spokeswoman for T-Mobile said that there have been "significant changes" made to the 911 service over the past year and that this type of problem shouldn't happen in the future.