British telecoms regulator Ofcom has fined Hull-based KCOM GBP900,000 (USD1.2 million) after uncovering what it termed ‘a serious weakness in the telecoms company’s emergency-call service’. Following an investigation, Ofcom said it had determined that KCOM, which operates the main telephone and broadband network in Kingston upon Hull, broke an important rule designed to ensure everyone can contact the emergency services at all times.
According to the findings of the regulator’s investigation, KCOM’s emergency call service for the Hull area was found to have failed for around four hours in December 2015, with this attributed to flooding at one of fixed line incumbent BT’s telephone exchanges in York. With all emergency calls from customers in the Hull area relying on the flooded telephone exchange, which was a single point of failure in KCOM’s emergency-call routing, it noted that to meet Ofcom rules, KCOM should have been able automatically to divert emergency calls via back up routes. Although KCOM was said to have back-up routes in place, the investigation made clear that these also relied on the flooded telephone exchange in York.
As a result Ofcom said it had found that KCOM had breached the requirement to ensure uninterrupted access to the emergency services, hence the financial penalty, the level of which the regulator claimed ‘reflects the seriousness of this breach, and its impact on public health and safety’. The fine, which must be paid to Ofcom within 20 working days, will be passed on to HM Treasury.