Three hit with £1.9 million fine over emergency call failure

ambulance

UK mobile operator Three has been slapped with a £1.89 million fine after regulator Ofcom found it had failed to provide resilient calls to emergency services on its network.

During an investigation of a Three network outage in October, Ofcom found that emergency calls from customers in Kent, Hampshire and parts of London had to pass through a single data centre.

This made the service vulnerable to a single point of failure, breaching an Ofcom rule requiring operators to provide uninterrupted access to emergency organisations as part of any service.

Ofcom said back-up routes to deal with local outages would also have failed as they were directed through this one point.

Three remedied the network weakness by adding an additional back-up route to carry emergency call traffic. The fine, which includes a 30 percent reduction to reflect Three’s cooperation during the investigation, must be paid to Ofcom within 20 working days.

In a statement, Three acknowledged the fine and said it took the requirement to provide uninterrupted access to emergency service “extremely seriously”.

However, it stressed that the vulnerability had not had an impact on its customers and related to a potential point of failure in the network.

Ofcom sounded a note of warning to Three’s counterparts, saying it expects all providers to satisfy themselves that their networks do not have any single points of failure in the routing of emergency call traffic which “could reasonably be avoided”.

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.”

In March, Ofcom fined BT £42 million after its Openreach division failed to provide adequate compensation for late installations.

In January, it fined EE £2.7 million for overcharging customers in 2014 and 2015. It also fined Plusnet £880,000 for the same thing in March.

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