FCC Fines Sprint $1.2 Million for 911 Outage

The whole idea behind the 911 emergency service is that itEUs available whenever a phone is within reach. That wasnEUt the case, however, during a significant part of 2014 for some Sprint customers -- and now the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is making the company pay for it.

The FCC announced Thursday that it is fining Sprint almost $1.2 million for inhibiting access to 911 calls for hearing-impaired citizens over a six-month period.

From March 28 through September 18, 2014, Sprint customers who used the Internet Protocol Captioned Telephone Service (IP CTS) were unable to make calls to 911. IP CTS provides a service similar to closed captioning. Users who attempted to use the service during that time complained that their calls werenEUt going through. Even so, Sprint continued to collect an FCC subsidy for keeping the service up and running during those months.

Money To Be Returned

To settle the matter, Sprint is admitting that it was unable to accept and handle emergency calls through its wireless IP CTS, and made inaccurate submissions to the Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS) Fund administrator. Sprint has promised to implement a compliance plan and will pay a $1.175 million civil penalty.

It will also be required to file regular compliance reports with the FCCEUs enforcement bureau until the consent decree expires. Finally, Sprint will reimburse the TRS Fund for the money Sprint accepted but was not entitled to collect. Sprint has agreed to the enforcement bureauEUs sanctions and has waived any right to challenge them.

Mistaken Reset

TRS providers must be capable of handling any type of call normally provided by telecommunications carriers, including 911 calls, said the FCC's enforcement bureau in an order released Thursday.

Sprint has been obligated to offer several forms of TRS, including IP CTS, since 2008. The company found in an internal investigation...

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