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Ofcom fines Three £1.9 million for emergency call failure

Ofcom fines Three £1.9 million for emergency call failure

Mobile network Three has been fined £1.9 million by Ofcom after it failed to ensure that its subscribers could contact the emergency services at all times.

Following a temporary service loss in Kent, Hampshire and parts of London on October 6, an investigation was launched by Ofcom into Three's network.

Ofcom discovered that emergency calls in the affected areas had to pass through one centralised data centre, meaning emergency calls in the area were vulnerable to a single point of failure.

The regulator has commented that Three had not acted deliberately or recklessly, but the weakness had breached its rules and could have had a serious impact on public health and safety.

Ofcom enforcement and investigations director Gaucho Rasmussen commented on the investigation saying, "Telephone access to the emergency services is extremely important, because failures can have serious consequences for people’s safety and wellbeing."

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."

A Three spokesperson commented on the fine saying "Providing our customers with uninterrupted access to emergency services is a requirement we take extremely seriously. Three therefore acknowledges Ofcom’s decision today to fine Three for a single point of vulnerability on Three’s network. However, this vulnerability has not had any impact on our customers and only relates to a potential point of failure in Three’s network.

"Ofcom identified this vulnerability when investigating a separate, unprecedented and unforeseeable October 2016 fibre break outage on Three’s network. This resulted in a temporary loss of emergency call services affecting some customers. Three took immediate action and the issue was quickly resolved.

"Ofcom recognises that the circumstances surrounding the October 2016 fibre break outage were exceptional and outside of Three’s control.  As a result, the incident itself was not a breach of Ofcom’s rules.

"Ofcom has also recognised today that Three has cooperated fully during its investigation and has taken steps to further strengthen the resilience of Three’s network."