The industry regulator Ofcom has fined Hull broadband provider KCOM nearly £1 million for failings in its emergency calls service.
KCOM broke an important rule crucial to public safety that says everyone should be able to contact the emergency services at all times.
Ofcom discovered the “serious weakness” in KCOM’s system during the heavy weather difficulties when Storm Eva battered the UK in late 2015 and early 2016.
Tens of thousands of homes were flooded and families evacuated after flash flooding from heavy, sustained rainfall swept the country.
But KCOM were relying on a single telephone exchange in York to connect these emergency calls, which itself flooded in the wake of Storm Eva.
It meant some residents who tried to make calls to the police, fire or ambulance service in the face of rising floodwaters couldn’t get through.
In total 74 calls from 34 different phone numbers failed to connect for around four hours.
Mobile provider Three was hit with a £2 million fine in July 2017 after Ofcom found similar failings in its 999 emergency calls system.
Ofcom rules say that users must be able to get through to 999 operators even if mobile networks are down or overloaded.
Gaucho Rasmussen, Ofcom’s Enforcement and Investigations Director, said: “Any failure to connect 999 calls is extremely serious.
“Today’s fine serves as a clear warning to the telecoms industry that it must prioritise access to the emergency services, no matter what the circumstances.”
The £900,000 fine must be paid within 20 days and will be passed on the HM Treasury.
MAIN IMAGE: Andy Pratt