E&C Dems Request Briefing from Comtech on 911 Emergency Operator Outages
Washington, D.C. – Energy and Commerce Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Communications and Technology Subcommittee Ranking Member Mike Doyle (D-PA), and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Ranking Member Diana DeGette (D-CO) sent a letter to Comtech CEO and President Fred Kornberg today requesting a briefing about the concerning reports that Comtech’s recent outages have prevented people from connecting with 911 emergency operators.
The letter follows reports that Comtech’s 911 system has experienced outages that have led to officials in communities in Ohio, Connecticut, and South Dakota suspending or even discontinuing services with Comtech. The city of Cincinnati alone has experienced 10 outages since June of 2016, including one lasting three hours and 30 minutes, eventually leading city officials to discontinue services with the company. Though 911 services are provided by local governments, most calls from wireless phones – the only phones for most Americans – are routed through just two national vendors, including Comtech. Comtech’s Annual Report states that its Next Generation 911 products “are utilized by literally millions of people in more than 30 states.”
“When someone calls 911, every second counts and any delay in connecting could be devastating. Furthermore, the recent natural disasters ravaging significant parts of our country show just how critical it is for communities to have 911 systems they can rely on no matter what,” the E&C Democrats wrote to Kornberg. “Effective 911 services can be the difference between life and death, and that is why we are so troubled by reports detailing 911 system outages in areas serviced by Comtech throughout the country.”
The three Democrats are requesting that Comtech provide a briefing to Committee staff by Tuesday, October 17th, in order to better understand what problems in its system led to the reported 911 outages, and to seek information about how it complies with federal, state, and local regulations that ensure reliability in 911 systems.
A copy of the letter is available here.