The UK regulator, Ofcom, has fined Three £1,890,000 after it uncovered a weakness in the mobile operator’s emergency call network. Had the investigation not taken place, it could have led to Three customers not being able to get through to the emergency service via 999 or 112. Ofcom has said that all providers should be sufficiently resilient against technical problems when it comes to allowing calls to the emergency services.
In October 2016, Ofcom was notified of a loss of services affecting parts of London and other areas of the country. Ofcom found in a subsequent investigation that emergency calls from customers in the affected area had to pass through a single data centre; if anything had happened at the centre which meant it couldn’t route the calls then the people in the affected areas wouldn’t have been able to get in touch with the fire, ambulance, or police services.
In a statement, Ofcom said:
“Three’s network should have been able to automatically divert emergency calls via back-up routes in the event of a local outage. But these back-up routes would also have failed because they were all directed through this one point.
To resolve the incident and address the underlying network weakness, Three added an additional back-up route to carry emergency call traffic.”
The fine that Ofcom levied against Three was meant to define the seriousness of the incident, even though Three didn’t act deliberately. The penalty reflects a 30% reduction due to the co-operation offered by Three during the investigation, including admitting the breaches identified by Ofcom. The fine must be paid within 20 working days and will be forwarded to HM Treasury.