T-Mobile to pay $20M settlement after 911 outage

The mobile carrier experienced a 12-hour outage in June 2020.

Corinne Reichert Senior Writer
Corinne Reichert (she/her) grew up in Sydney, Australia and moved to California in 2019. She holds degrees in law and communications, and currently oversees the CNET breaking news desk for the West Coast. Corinne covers everything from phones, social media and security to movies, politics, 5G and pop culture. In her spare time, she watches soccer games, F1 races and Disney movies.
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Corinne Reichert

The carrier's 2G, 3G and 4G networks suffered a 2020 outage resulting in more than 20,000 failed 911 calls.

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T-Mobile has reached a $19.5 million settlement with the US Federal Communications Commission over an investigation into the carrier's 911 outage in June 2020. T-Mobile is also set to implement a compliance plan, including improving its 911 outage notices, the FCC said on Tuesday. 

The FCC investigation kicked off in December last year, after a 12-hour outage on June 15, 2020, led to congestion across the carrier's 4G, 3G and 2G networks, causing what the FCC said was "the complete failure of more than 23,000 911 calls." Over 23,000 911 calls were also recorded without location information, and more than 20,000 911 calls without callback information. 

The FCC said it "cannot identify the total number of impacted calls." According to the investigation, the outage was caused by the failure of a leased fiber link on the network, a routing flaw in one location, and two flaws in third-party software. 

"We understand how critical reliable connectivity is to ensure public safety and we take that responsibility very seriously," T-Mobile said in an emailed statement. "We have built resiliency into our emergency systems to ensure that our 911 elements are available when they're needed. Following this outage, we immediately took additional steps to further enhance our network to prevent this type of event from happening in the future."

T-Mobile similarly paid $17.5 million to settle an FCC investigation into two 911 service outages that occurred in August 2014.