KCOM has been fined £900k after Ofcom found it was in breach of rules around the resiliency of their network allowing users to make calls to the emergency services.
Under Ofcom’s rules they expect telephone companies’ emergency-call services to be resilient. They should ensure, to the greatest extent possible, that emergency calls can be connected at all times, even in challenging circumstances.
On 28 December 2015, KCOM notified Ofcom that its emergency-call service for the Hull area had failed for around a four-hour period. KCOM attributed this failure to flooding at one of BT’s telephone exchanges in York, in the wake of Storm Eva. As a result, 74 attempted calls to 999 or 112 from 34 different numbers failed to connect during this period.
To meet Ofcom rules, KCOM should have been able automatically to divert emergency calls via back-up routes. While the investigation found that KCOM did have back-up routes in place, it later became clear that these also relied on the flooded telephone exchange in York.
To resolve the incident and address the weakness in its emergency-call routing, KCOM created an alternative route to carry emergency-call traffic that bypassed the flooded telephone exchange in York. It did so within two hours of identifying the problem.
The fine, which must be paid to Ofcom within 20 working days, will be passed on to HM Treasury.
Gaucho Rasmussen, Ofcom’s Enforcement and Investigations Director, said: “Ofcom rules mean that people must be able to call the emergency services around the clock.
“Any failure to connect 999 calls is extremely serious. Today’s fine serves as a clear warning to the telecoms industry that it must prioritise access to the emergency services, no matter what the circumstances.”