LONDON: Ofcom has fined KCOM, the local operator in Hull, £900,000 after a network failure left customers unable to contact the emergency services for four hours.
All telecoms companies are required by the regulator to provide uninterrupted access to the emergency services, and to ensure that their systems are resilient in the case of a technical fault. Three was fined £1.9m in July after a network fault meant that its customers could not reach the emergency services.
The outage in Hull hit in December 2015 during Storm Eva after a BT exchange in nearby York was flooded. KCOM did have back up systems to deal with a failure but those also relied on the exchange in York. As a result, 74 attempted calls to 999 failed to connect during this period. KCOM alerted Ofcom to the outage.
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.”
KCOM is looking to retire the copper cables in some of its exchanges as a result of it investment in full fibre. However providing guaranteed access to emergency services represents a hurdle to that move given the reliability of copper lines.