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AT&T Communications Network Government Networking Wireless Networking

FCC Investigating Coast-To-Coast 911 Outage For AT&T Wireless Users (nbcnews.com) 53

AT&T says it has fixed a nationwide outage that prevented its wireless customers from making 911 emergency calls. "Service has been restored for wireless customers affected by an issue connecting to 911. We apologize to those affected," the company officials said in a statement. The outage was serious enough to gain the attention of the Federal Communications Commission. The FCC chairman, Ajit Pai, said via Twitter that they are investigating what went wrong. NBC News reports: The company didn't say how widespread the outage was, but as reports poured in from across the country, Karima Holmes, director of unified communications for the Washington, D.C., government, said her office had been "advised there is a nationwide outage for AT&T." At 10:20 p.m. ET, about 10 minutes before AT&T gave the all-clear, DownDetector, a site that monitors internet traffic for real-time information on wireless and broadband carriers, indicated that outage reports for AT&T were clustered most prominently around New York City, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Miami, Dallas, Houston, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Seattle. But emergency authorities across the country confirmed 911 outages and publicized direct police, fire and ambulance dispatch telephone numbers that AT&T customers should call in emergencies.
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FCC Investigating Coast-To-Coast 911 Outage For AT&T Wireless Users

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  • by SeaFox ( 739806 ) on Thursday March 09, 2017 @03:05AM (#54004949)

    ...outage reports for AT&T were clustered most prominently around New York City, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Miami, Dallas, Houston, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Seattle...

    For service to be disrupted in cities all across the country in this fashion, either the 911 systems for AT&T are way too centralized to be safe, or this is a coordinated attack on several regional pieces of infrastructure at once (and it exposes a criminal lack of security I'd say). I wonder which way AT&T will want to go with this.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      either the 911 systems for AT&T are way too centralized to be safe

      A bad software or routing update could have done this, pushed out to all of their decentralised systems.

  • Look, e911 equipment is heavily subsidized by the Federal Government. It is essentially free for the operator to acquire. Likewise it's configuration is fully paid for by the Universal Service Fund charge that's tacked on to every phone bill you get.

    So, it would seem that yet again we see AT&T with their trotters in the pig trough slurping down billions and billions of dollars and providing absolutely nothing they are supposed to do in order to earn those subsidies. I'm *shocked!* Shocked! that AT&T

    • When I worked for an FDIC insured bank, our network and systems were audited by the Office of Thrift Supervision.

      If the federal government is subsidizing e911 - is there an agency that audits that spending and the network?

      • If the federal government is subsidizing e911 - is there an agency that audits that spending and the network?

        Here's the thing, folks, some really smart people are saying the federal government DID subsidize 9/11. Regular 9/11 was bad enough, I don't want an e-9/11 on my watch, folks. My cyber experts, Barron Trump and Rudy Giuliani, and by the way they're great cyberers, Steve Bannon has told me these two are the best at cybering, they're going to make sure any attempt at e-9/11 doesn't succeed, believe me!

      • is there an agency that audits that spending and the network?

        It depends on where the funds are disbursed from. For telecoms, it's the FCC (Ajit pai). For other entities, that is the state or federal agency. Example, schools would be the Department of Education (Nancy DeVos) or the specific state's education agency. For law enforcement, it's a mix of the FCC and DHS.

        But the important thing to keep in mind is that these audits are financial, not technical. I've never been (when I was involved with it) audited

  • I'm guessing the FCC will conclude that the federal emergency services failed and therefor should be privatized, perhaps handled by trustworthy actors such as Trump Emergency Services LLC or Exxon Mobil.

    It's not going to be a monopoly or anything, it's just that they are the only two companies certified by the president to run such an important service.

    Oh, and expect prices to be 'competitive'.

    • by Entrope ( 68843 ) on Thursday March 09, 2017 @07:01AM (#54005461) Homepage

      AT&T is already a private company operating the part of 911 services that failed.

      If you're going to threadshit with a political troll, at least put in the effort of not sounding totally ignorant.

      • Emergency services are not restricted to 911 calls.

        If you do not comprehend the text, your first response probably shouldn't be to hit the reply button.

        • But it was 911 that failed - NOT the providers of emergency services such as police, fire, medical.
          • Yes, hence it would take a thoroughly corrupt FCC to find fault with the emergency service providers, and an even more corrupt White House to use that for personal gain. While the scenario was a joke and incredibly unlikely, the corruption is in line with previous actions of both Ajit Pai and the White House, and pretty damn frightening to boot.

            • Nothing, but nothing has been discussed about emergency services providers being an issue. You're more likely to find this under a CLinton presidency because - surprise! - cops, firemen, and EMTs tend to be white men.
        • 911 calls were what failed, so it's dishonest to bring other emergency services into the discussion. And 911 is provided by local dispatching anyway -- it has essentially nothing to do with the federal government, contrary to your original troll.

          • I'll reiterate, because clearly you didn't get it the first time -

            If you do not comprehend the text, your first response probably shouldn't be to hit the reply button.

            There is no Trump Emergency Services LLC as the very notion that you would run emergency services under a limited liability flag is below all standards of decency even for Satan. Exxon Mobil would never get into the emergency services business, they're an oil company for God's sake. Furthermore, the president does not personally certify emerge

    • There are no federal emergency services, with the exception of the US military acting on external threats. "Emergency Services" like police and fire are run on a city/county/on occasion state level (aka State Patrol or State Police). As for privatization, providers of the equipment and telecom for said emergency services department ARE private - such as AT&T in this instance. It isn't the emergency services that are private, it's a private company, AT&T, that is not routing enhanced 911 to the ap
  • "Coast-to-Coast" ???

    You mean ALIENS did it?

  • I got a text alert (Score:4, Insightful)

    by cstacy ( 534252 ) on Thursday March 09, 2017 @05:23AM (#54005265)

    When this happened here in the D.C. area, I immediately got an SMS from the police about it,
    and giving the regular non-911 number in case you needed it.

    (Actually, got several of these alerts (DC-MD-VA), and also the service restoration announcement.)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 09, 2017 @07:04AM (#54005467)

    My city runs its own POTS telephone network, and when they had a 2 hours, city-wide outage of the entire network that, of course, also happened to disable access to 911 (duh, no phone = no 911), they were fined $1.6 million by the FCC. That was $200 per capita.

    So... by my calculation, AT&T ought to probably pay somewhere on the order of $20 Billion.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 09, 2017 @07:12AM (#54005481)

    911 service is just another useless regulation that needs to be removed in order to allow mobile carriers to innovate. 911 services currently have a government-enforced and government-controlled monopoly on emergency-response services. The government has been undercutting the private sector in this major market for far too long, and it needs to stop. Lifting outdated regulations like mandatory 911 service opens up a market for wireless carriers to provide their own, private emergency-response services. Private companies can always deliver services in a better, cheaper way. It's time to eliminate this legacy, ineffectual, and demonstrably ineffective regulation from an industry that is barely surviving under the weight of government regulations. AT&T's outage shows just how badly this system needs to be eliminated.

    Pai's investigation will certainly come to the same conclusion.

  • FCC now lives in the world of alternative facts
  • You really can't test for 911 without calling. They get quite perturbed if you call and tell them your just testing.
  • Pai will do something about it?

    I doubt that! This will be swept under rug, hands slapped, etc.

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