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Meanwhile, Verizon Under Investigation for Dropping the Ball on 911 Calls During Storm

Phillip Dampier February 22, 2011 Consumer News, Public Policy & Gov't, Verizon, Video No Comments

This home in Silver Spring became fully involved in fire after neighbors couldn't reach 911 and had to rescue the 94-year old resident themselves.

More than 10,000 calls to 911 during last month’s blizzard on the east coast failed to reach emergency officials over Verizon’s network according to the Federal Communications Commission.  Even worse, terrorism experts suspect the 911 failures could impact the entire nation during a major disaster, weather event, or terrorist attack.

Last month, a Silver Spring residence went up in flames and neighbors had to rescue the 94-year old owner themselves after repeated attempts to call 911 failed.

The latest and most serious incident occurred in Washington, D.C. and its suburbs Jan. 26 when a snowstorm triggered more than 10,000 calls for help that never reached emergency responders.  The blame is being laid at the feet of one company — Verizon Communications.

All 14 circuits in the Verizon network that properly route all wireless calls in Montgomery County failed and nine of 10 Verizon circuits in Prince George’s County failed over a five-hour period on the night in question. This resulted in approximately 8,300 blocked 911 calls in Montgomery County and 1,700 blocked 911 calls in Prince George’s County that evening, according to Rear Admiral Jamie Barnett, Chief of the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau.

“I know that you will agree that any 911 call which is not connected can have serious consequences, but the large number of missed 911 calls on January 26 is truly alarming,” Barnett wrote Verizon. “The ability to call 911 is critical to the safety of the public. This is especially true during extreme weather events. The public rightly expects that they can use 911 to reach the appropriate first responders in an emergency. In addition to your written response, I request a meeting with appropriate representatives from Verizon within the next two weeks to discuss your resolution of this matter.”

Barnett and the FCC also expressed concerns these problems may not be an isolated incident, but could be a nightmare waiting to happen wherever Verizon provides telephone service.

Verizon blamed an equipment failure and an avalanche of calls for the problem.

“We have been addressing this issue directly with the counties involved, and will work cooperatively to address the FCC’s questions, as well,” said Harry Mitchell, a Verizon spokesman.

http://www.phillipdampier.com/video/Montgomery County 911 No answer.flv

This YouTube video shows a 911 call in Montgomery County going unanswered for nearly a minute and a half.  (2 minutes)

http://www.phillipdampier.com/video/WUSA Washington 911 Service Problems 2-22-11.flv

WUSA-TV in Washington has followed the 911 disruptions for several weeks now.  Channel 9 picks up the story starting with the fire in Silver Spring.  (6 minutes)

http://www.phillipdampier.com/video/WTTG Washington 911 Service Problems 2-22-11.flv

WTTG-TV in Washington also reports on the frustration from 911 callers as well as city and local officials annoyed with Verizon.  (6 minutes)

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  • Dawsonfiberhood: Back in 2003, GrandeCom.Com did this to us. The cable originated at a utility pillar in the yard of the neighbor behind and diagonal to us. It *coiled...
  • Joe V: Hopefully Frontier will get a handle on resolving these problems with this latest acquisition before another sell-off comes up soon....
  • Jeremy: Either the neighbor's house is built right on the property line (in which case his downspout and gutter are also dumping into Jacob's yard, or Jacob's...
  • Bryan: This seems to be standard practice because it happened to me 2 months ago when I moved into my new house. They had to run a new bright orange line fr...
  • Phillip Dampier: Nice try, guys. It is not "standard procedure" for Time Warner Cable to place, without permission, its drop line on another person's personal propert...
  • Nick: You are absolutely correct. I worked for Time Warner, and this is standard procedure. You run a temporary orange drop until construction gets out ther...
  • Derpson: Ive been following this blog for a while now, and seeing a post like this makes me lose credibility for the information it posts. Are all stopthecap ...
  • Steve P.: How many people have any real competition for Internet? I know I don't. Certainly not DSL at a fourth the speed....
  • David: I mostly read your blog to hear about item #4. I'm a Frontier customer and their service speed is really poor. I hope that they someday get around to ...
  • Christopher G.: I used to work in the industry for multiple companies. We are the richest country yet one of the lower tiers of speed for internet. Why? Internet c...
  • Joe V: Keep it up Phil. I just wrote a piece to Frontline PBS about the state of broadband duopolies in this country. I hope they read and respond....
  • Dawsonfiberhood: Thanks for the hard work, Phillip. I look forward to each new article you write!...

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