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Freedom of Information Act

Reliable data on 911 outages and service is hard to come by

Reliable data on 911 outages and service is hard to come by

When a glitch in phone company systems left Baltimore without 911 service for over an hour last week, The Baltimore Sun wanted to know how often such outages occur.

Public records made it clear that the outage wasn't unique, but much of the information about problems with 911 is confidential, making it difficult to figure out just how often the emergency phone system is out of action. The secrecy highlights the 911 system's strange role as a critical lifeline to police and fire departments, but one that is almost entirely run by private companies.

The Federal Communications Commission requires phone companies to submit reports about outages that affect a large number of people...

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