Regional UK operator KCOM has been hit with a £900,000 fine after failing to provide reliable calling services to emergency services.

An investigation by regulator Ofcom found that all emergency calls from KCOM’s customers were routed through a single telephone exchange, making the service vulnerable to a single point of failure.

This came to light after the flooding of one of BT's exchanges in December 2015, on which KCOM relies for emergency traffic, led to an outage in which 74 attempted calls (90 including test calls) to 999 or 112 failed to connect.

Overall, 187,406 KCOM lines were unable to connect to emergency services numbers during the period.

While Ofcom found that KCOM, which operates in the Hull and East Riding area of the UK, had alternative routes in place, these also relied on the same exchange that had been flooded.

In the investigation, which began in February 2016, KCOM was found to breach Ofcom rules requiring operators to provide uninterrupted access to emergency organisations as part of any service.

KCOM has created an alternative route to carry emergency traffic.

Gaucho Rasmussen, Ofcom’s Enforcement and Investigations Director, said: “Ofcom rules mean that people must be able to call the emergency services around the clock.

“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.”

Mobile operator Three was hit by a £1.89 million fine in June after Ofcom found that its emergency call service was vulnerable to a single point of failure.

Ofcom sounded a note of warning to Three’s counterparts at the time, saying it expected all providers to satisfy themselves that their networks did not have any single points of failure in the routing of emergency call traffic which “could reasonably be avoided”.

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