Federal Communications Commission chairman Ajit Pai announced his agency will investigate an issue that left AT&T customers in at least 14 states without the ability to call emergency services.
Reports of the outage began on Wednesday, when law enforcement agencies and emergency response services took to social media to alert others of the issue. The disruption lasted for at least five hours before the problem was corrected.
The New York Times reported the outage affected access to emergency services in Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia and Washington.
“Service has been restored for wireless customers affected by an issue connecting to 911,” a spokesperson for AT&T told International Business Times. “We apologize to those affected.”
Chairman Pai took note of the issue on Twitter, stating, “We're receiving reports of widespread AT&T 911 call outages,” and noting the FCC’s public safety staff was investigating the problem. On Thursday, Pai announced a full investigation into the outage.
“Every call to 911 must go through,” Chairman Pai said in a statement. “So when I first learned of yesterday’s outage, I immediately directed FCC staff to contact AT&T about it and the company’s efforts to restore access to emergency services to the American public.”
Pai said he already spoke to AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson and “stressed the urgent need to restore service and to communicate with first responders,” and has directed the Commission staff to “track down the root cause of this outage.”
Lisa Fowlkes, the acting chief of the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, shared a similar sentiment. “Access to 911 emergency services is essential for all Americans, especially the most vulnerable. We will fully investigate this outage and determine the root cause and its impact,” she said in a statement.
AT&T acknowledged the investigation, and a spokesperson for the company told IBT, "We take our 911 obligations to our customers very seriously and will be sharing additional information with the FCC."
AT&T, the second-largest mobile carrier in the U.S., declined to disclose any additional information about the outage, including details about its cause, when the issue began and how many of its customers were affected.