Telco forgot to renew its web domain, broke deaf folks' video calls – now gets a $3m paddlin'

Sorenson dinged after cockup blocked emergency calls


A US telco will cough up $3m after a web domain screwup caused it to drop potentially emergency and other essential video calls from deaf and hearing-impaired people.

Sorenson Communications in Utah will pay America's comms watchdog, the FCC, a $252,000 fine as a result of the blunder. It will also reimburse $2.7m to the regulator.

Sorenson's video relay service (VRS) is used by deaf and hearing-impaired Americans to place calls through an operator via sign language or captioning. The biz receives money through the FCC's Telecommunications Relay Services (TRS) fund to operate the VRS as an essential communications service for emergency calls.

According to the FCC, on June 6, 2016, Sorenson suffered a three-day outage that began when it forgot to renew its domain name registration. When the domain was deactivated, customers were unable to connect to the VRS to make calls, cutting them off from emergency numbers and running afoul of FCC availability requirements for essential phone service.

"The FCC has established specific quality requirements for TRS Fund-supported services," the commission explained [PDF] on Friday this week.

"These requirements ensure that persons with hearing or speech disabilities are able to stay connected with friends and family, and access critical services such as 911 in a manner similar to persons without hearing or speech disabilities."

The $2.7m will be used to pay back money Sorenson received from the TRS fund while its service was down. The $252,000 fine will go into the US Treasury.

Sorenson isn't the first telco to face a fine in the wake of a major outage. Big names including CenturyLink, Verizon and Sprint have all faced hefty penalties from the commission for service breaks that cut people off from reaching 911 and emergency services. ®

Broader topics


Other stories you might like

  • FCC: Applications for funds to replace Chinese comms kit lack evidence
    Well you told us to rip and ... hang on, we're not getting any money?

    The saga of the US government's plan to rip and replace China-made communications kit from the country's networks has a new twist: following reports that applications for funding far outstripped the cash set aside, it appears two-thirds of such applications lack adequate cost estimates or sufficient supporting evidence.

    The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) informed Congress that it had found deficiencies in 122 of the 181 of the applications filed with it by US carriers for funding to reimburse them for replacing telecoms equipment sourced from Chinese companies.

    The FCC voted nearly a year ago to reimburse medium and small carriers in the US for removing and replacing all network equipment provided by companies such as Huawei and ZTE. The telecoms operators were required to do this in the interests of national security under the terms of the Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act.

    Continue reading
  • SpaceX: 5G expansion could kill US Starlink broadband
    It would be easier to take this complaint seriously if Elon wasn't so Elon

    If the proposed addition of the 12GHz spectrum to 5G goes forward, Starlink broadband terminals across America could be crippled, or so SpaceX has complained. 

    The Elon Musk biz made the claim [PDF] this week in a filing to the FCC, which is considering allowing Dish to operate a 5G service in the 12GHz band (12.2-12.7GHz). This frequency range is also used by Starlink and others to provide over-the-air satellite internet connectivity.

    SpaceX said its own in-house study, conducted in Las Vegas, showed "harmful interference from terrestrial mobile service to SpaceX's Starlink terminals … more than 77 percent of the time, resulting in full outages 74 percent of the time." It also claimed the interference will extend to a minimum of 13 miles from base stations. In other words, if Dish gets to use these frequencies in the US, it'll render nearby Starlink terminals useless through wireless interference, it was claimed.

    Continue reading
  • IT downtime not itself going down, power failures most common cause
    2022 in a nutshell: Missing SLAs, failing to meet customer expectations

    Infrastructure operators are struggling to reduce the rate of IT outages despite improving technology and strong investment in this area.

    The Uptime Institute's 2022 Outage Analysis Report says that progress toward reducing downtime has been mixed. Investment in cloud technologies and distributed resiliency has helped to reduce the impact of site-level failures, for example, but has also added complexity. A growing number of incidents are being attributed to network, software or systems issues because of this intricacy.

    The authors make it clear that critical IT systems are far more reliable than they once were, thanks to many decades of improvement. However, data covering 2021 and 2022 indicates that unscheduled downtime is continuing at a rate that is not significantly reduced from previous years.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022