FCC presses Verizon about its recent 911 call failure

Verizon Communications (NYSE: VZ) is facing an inquiry from the FCC over dropping about 10,000 wireless 911 calls during a Jan. 26 snowstorm in Maryland, and the agency wants the service provider to give them a report on what caused the issue and what steps it will take to ensure it won't happen again.

In a letter sent to Verizon, the agency said it is concerned that the "problem may be widespread across Verizon's footprint."

Although the FCC said the issue effected Verizon's wireless callers, a report in FierceTelecom's sister publication FierceWireless revealed that the problem was related to Verizon's 911 routing system, which failed to connect wireless 911 calls from numerous wireless carriers and not just Verizon Wireless.

"We have been addressing this issue directly with the counties involved, and will work cooperatively to address the FCC's questions, as well," Harry Mitchell, a Verizon spokesman, said in an e-mail to Bloomberg, adding, that the outage which affected Montgomery and Prince George's counties in Maryland, was caused by a "mass call event."

James Barnett, chief of the FCC's Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, believes that the recent outage was not the result of faulty equipment, and that this is not the first time such an outage has taken place in this area.

"We are particularly concerned that this problem may be widespread across Verizon's footprint," Barnett wrote in a letter to Verizon. "We therefore request that Verizon investigate the extent of the problem across its network."

The FCC has given Verizon until March 10 to detail what lead to the outage.

For more:
- Bloomberg has this article
- see this FCC document

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