After a network outage in Kent highlighted failings in Three’s network, Ofcom has issued a fine for £1,890,000.
The outage occurred on 6 October 2016, but this wasn’t the reason Three was fined. When Ofcom investigated the outage, it found that emergency calls in the affected area were routed through one specific data centre. Any problems at this data centre would stop 999 calls connecting.
Ofcom’s rules say: ‘Communications Providers shall take all necessary measures to maintain, to the greatest extent possible, uninterrupted access to Emergency Organisations as part of any Publicly Available Telephone Services offered.’
Three’s network should have the capacity to redirect emergency calls in the event of an outage, rather the funnelling them all through a single point. It was this weakness in the network that lead to the fine.
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What happens now?
Three co-operated fully with the investigation, which means the potential fine was reduced by 30%, and the operator will have 20 days to pay it. The substantial sum will end up with HM Treasury.
Ofcom stated on its website that Three has added an additional back-up route to carry emergency call traffic. This fine should prompt other mobile operators to check their own networks for similar weaknesses, to ensure that UK residents always have access to emergency services.
Gaucho Rasmussen, Ofcom’s enforcement and investigations director, said: ‘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.