AT&T Wireless pays $2m to settle emergency number location probe

AT&T Wireless Services has agreed to pay $2m (£1.28m) to the US government to settle an investigation concerning the...

AT&T Wireless Services has agreed to pay $2m (£1.28m) to the US government to settle an investigation concerning the implementation of technology used to locate callers who dial emergency services on mobile phones.

In May, the Federal Communications Commission alleged that AT&T failed to meet a number of deadlines for implementing improved location services over its Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) network. Those services would allow rescue personnel to pinpoint more accurately the location of people who dial 911 from mobile phones.

As part of the settlement, the FCC said AT&T also agreed to certain deadlines for deploying location technology in its GSM network, including implementing it in a minimum of 1,000 sites by 31 January 2003, while incrementally increasing that number to 8,000 by 30 June 2004.

If AT&T misses any of its deadlines, it would be fined $450,000 (£288,000) for the first missed deadline, $900,000 (£576,110) for the second and $1.8m (£1.1m) for any others.

In April, the FCC gave AT&T more time to comply with the requirements for deploying Enhanced 911 automatic location identification over its GSM network. In the same month, the FCC granted AT&T a temporary, conditional waiver that gave the carrier more time to implement the location accuracy requirements. However, the FCC said AT&T failed to meet the requirements of that waiver.

AT&T spokeswoman Rochelle Cohen said the settlement allowed the company to focus on providing the second phase of E911 service to GSM customers.

"We now have a set of ambitious but more practical deployment benchmarks to reach, and we're hard at work on reaching them," she said.

AT&T contended that its vendors were responsible for the problems it had implementing the second phase of E911 service because they could not deliver the necessary technology on time.

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