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Three fined £1.9m after customers were unable to call emergency services

Friday, June 16th 2017 by Phil Wilkinson-Jones

Mobile provider Three has been fined £1.9m by Ofcom after a fault on its network left customers unable to call emergency numbers.

The telecoms watchdog said Three broke an important rule that ensures people can contact emergency services at all times.

Phone networks should be configured in such a way that even when there are technical problems, calls to numbers such as 999 and 112 can still get through.

But on 6 October last year, an outage left customers in Kent, Hampshire and parts of London were unable to make such calls.

An investigation by Ofcom found that emergency calls from the affected areas had to pass through a particular data centre.

This meant Three’s emergency call service was vulnerable to a single point of failure – in the event of an outage there was no alternative way for calls to get through.

Ofcom said the weakness in Three’s network breached the requirement to ensure uninterrupted access to emergency services, adding that Three has since installed an additional back-up route to carry emergency call traffic.

The regulator said Three “did not act deliberately or recklessly” but a fine of £1,890,000 was necessary to reflect the seriousness of the breach and its potential impact on public health and safety.

Gaucho Rasmussen, Ofcom’s enforcement and investigations director, said: “Telephone access to the emergency services is extremely important, because failures can have serious consequences for people’s safety and wellbeing.

“Today’s fine serves as a clear warning to the wider telecoms industry. Providers must take all necessary steps to ensure uninterrupted access to emergency services.”

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