Verizon Asked to Probe ‘Alarming’ Dropped 911 Calls

U.S. regulators said Verizon Communications Inc.’s networks may have dropped a “truly alarming” number of wireless emergency calls during a snow storm last month, and asked the carrier to investigate.

Reports indicate Verizon’s network failed to connect 10,000 calls to 911 numbers in Washington’s suburbs during the Jan. 26 storm, the Federal Communications Commission said in a letter to the carrier today that was released by e-mail.

“We are particularly concerned that this problem may be widespread across Verizon’s footprint,” Jamie Barnett, chief of the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, said in the letter. The agency wants Verizon to investigate the extent of the problem across its network, he said.

“We have been addressing this issue directly with the counties involved, and will work cooperatively to address the FCC’s questions, as well,” Harry Mitchell, a Verizon spokesman, said in an e-mail. The outage, which affected Montgomery and Prince George’s counties in Maryland, was triggered by a “mass call event,” Mitchell said.

(Updates with Verizon statement in fourth paragraph.)
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