Mobile Network Three has been fined £1.9 million following an investigation by the watchdog Ofcom.
The investigation found a failure in systems which would have left users unable to call the emergency services. Mobile operators must have a backup operator that allows customers to reach emergency services despite signal problems.
Three broke a rule of ”utmost importance to public health and safety” said the UK watchdog.
“The fine reflects the seriousness of the breach, given the potential impact on public health and safety,” 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-ups would also have failed because they were all directed through this one point.” said Ofcom.
Ofcom said on Friday that it expects all networks emergency call services to be sufficient, even when the provider experiences problems. This includes ensuring that networks will allow emergency calls to work, even if there are technical issues.
This was experienced last October when a temporary loss of service affected users in Kent, Hampshire and other areas in London. Three was vulnerable to a “single point of failure” due to not having an adequate backup system.
Three has taken steps to rectify the mistake and has 20 days to pay the fine set by Ofcom, which has a 30 percent reduction after the mobile network company co-operated throughout the investigation.
Ofcom enforcement and investigations director, Gaucho Rasmussen, said: “Telephone access to the emergency services is extremely important. Failures can have serious consequences for people’s safety and well-being.
“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.”
Three have said: “Providing our customers with uninterrupted access to emergency services is a requirement we take extremely seriously.”