TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Cellphone 911 Calls Failed in Big Storm / Verizon Promises

Cellphone 911 Calls Failed in Big Storm / Verizon Promises

Monty Solomon (
Wed, 21 Dec 2005 23:15:26 -0500

Verizon promises to ferret out why system broke down
By Douglas Belkin, Globe Staff | December 21, 2005

At the height of a blinding afternoon snowstorm almost two weeks ago,
the state's enhanced 911 cellphone system failed, leaving motorists
stuck on highways unable to reach police easily.

State authorities said the glitch, which appears to have been in the
Verizon network that routes all cell 911 calls, lasted as long as 40
minutes. The result: Users who called 911 around 3 p.m. on Dec. 9
heard only a busy signal.

"Something jammed the system. The calls never got through," said
Edward M. Merrick Jr., the chairman of the standards committee for
the Statewide Emergency Telecommunications Board, which oversees the
system. "It's a serious concern."

The breakdown coincided with a Northeaster that barrelled across
Massachusetts, icing roads, crippling traffic, and decreasing
visibility to just a few feet. Parts of the state received 15 inches
of snow and experienced wind gusts of up to 70 miles per hour.

The hour before the storm hit, the State Police enhanced 911 center in
Framingham answered about 500 calls. But between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m.,
operators received fewer than 200. It is not clear how many calls
failed, but it appears a switch that controls which cell calls enter
the 911 system was overwhelmed and shut down. Land-line calls still
went through.

Merrick was aware that call volume had lessened during the storm, but
until he was contacted by the Globe, he attributed it to not having
enough operators on duty. It was only after some inquiries, and 10
days after the storm, that Merrick learned the problem may have been
on Verizon's end.

Post Followup Article Use your browser's quoting feature to quote article into reply
Go to Next message: Peter N. Spotts: "Laboratory Ethics: What Makes Scientists Lie and Cheat?"
Go to Previous message: Monty Solomon: "Treo 650 to Support BlackBerry Connect"
TELECOM Digest: Home Page