Bandwidth.com Network Outage May Trigger FCC Outage Reporting if Your 911 Service was Impacted

Bandwidth.com, a major SIP Trunk and 911 service provider, recently experienced an outage that disrupted services, including 911 services, starting September 25. Bandwidth.com continues to experience outages, affecting service resellers and potentially triggering compliance obligations before the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), pursuant to 47 CFR Part 4, and, under certain circumstances discussed below, state public utility commissions.

Service providers seeking to understand the FCC’s Outage Reporting Rules & Requirements may download our FCC Outage Reporting Guide to obtain additional information; we recommend consulting with experienced Telecom Counsel should you have any questions or concerns, particularly with regard to the potential implications of  adverse publicity and mitigation thereof.

911 Outage FCC Reporting

Affected providers that meet or exceed the FCC’s threshold—an outage for at least 30 minutes that meets additional applicable criteria based on service type—must notify the FCC almost immediately and file a detailed report within 30 days of the outage in the FCC Network Outage Reporting System (NORS). The FCC requires reporting to additional entities based on the type of service and outage.

Cable or wireline communications providers must notify the FCC within 120 minutes of an outage lasting at least 30 minutes that also potentially affects at least 900,000 subscriber user-minutes, 677 OC3 minutes, special offices or facilities, or a 911 special facility.

Meanwhile, interconnected Voice over Internet Protocol (I-VoIP) providers must notify the FCC within 240 minutes of an outage lasting at least 30 minutes that potentially affects a 9-1-1 special facility or within 24 hours of an outage of least 30 minutes that potentially affects least 900,000 subscriber user-minutes or special offices and facilities.

Any provider that suffers a 911 outage should first determine whether the threshold was met then take appropriate action:

  1. Notify the FCC within the appropriate timeframe;
  2. File any additional required reports, such as an Initial Communications Outage Report within 72 hours of discovering an outage (applicable to some providers, e., wireline and cable, but not I-VoIP providers), with the FCC; and
  3. File a Final Communications Outage Report to the FCC within 30 days of discovering an outage.

Confidentiality of Reports to the FCC

Providers must balance the need to comply with FCC requirements when filing reports and the potential risk of any information reported becoming public through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). While the FCC treats NORS information “presumptively confidential,” a March 2021 FCC Order notes it may be confidentially shared with “state, federal, local, and Tribal partners.”

State Reporting Obligations

Finally, while most OTT providers do not have state 911 outage reporting requirements, in some markets, there are state requirements that apply to traditional wireline Competitive Local Exchange Carriers, or CLECs.

Our firm can answer any questions related to how the Bandwidth.com outage affects you, including an analysis of your obligations, whether you experienced an “outage” within the FCC’s rules, and any exposure from failure to notify the FCC or otherwise act as well as provide an analysis of how to ensure you meet federal and state 911 outage reporting obligations. Please contact Robert Jackson at rhj@commlawgroup.com or 703-714-1316 with any questions.

We can also provide contact information for a facilities-based provider client that can provide 911 service with a relatively short turnaround if you are experiencing an ongoing outage or would like to review additional options.

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