FCC Issues Report on Massive 911 Outage

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The Federal Communications Commission’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau (Bureau) has issued a report on the massive 911 outage that occurred in April 2014 and resulted in a loss of 911 service for more than 11 million people for up to six hours in seven states.  A software coding error in a 911 call-routing facility in Englewood, Colorado caused the outage, and ultimately prevented over 6,600 calls to 911 from reaching a Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP).  In the report, which is based upon confidential outage reports, public comments and documents, and interviews with stakeholders, the Bureau analyzes the causes and effects of the outage, provides a thorough examination of how most 911 networks are structured, including the increasing reliance on third-party vendors, and summarizes the policy implications of the outage.  In the end, the Bureau finds that “the technical and operational failures that caused and prolonged the outage suggest the need for a close examination of the transition to IP-supported 911 services,” and provides a number of recommendations for maintaining a reliable end-to-end 911 system.

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