WASHINGTON, D.C. (WUSA)-- Virginia Democratic Congressman Gerry Connolly is slamming Verizon Communications. The company is contracted to route most of the 911 calls in the Washington area, and according to him they have failed several times.
Connolly said he would give the company a D rating at best saying, "The whole purpose of 911 is that when you need it, it works."
He and two other congressman are behind a bi-partisan push forcing Verizon to improve its services. He said if the company doesn't do so, he wants the Federal Communication Commission to intervene.
Connolly said , "If Verizon can't be counted on to do that voluntarily, then we need the FCC to step in and promulgate new standards, new regulations, and make sure they are enforced."
Connolly's criticism comes after a serious of weather events that have knocked out the system and left those making emergency calls listening to busy signals or nothing at all.
He says the winter storms of 2010-2011, and this year's Derecho storm, prove that Verizon can't handle what they have been contracted to do.
Verizon fired back saying it has learned from the previous storms, and those improvements were put to the test during October's Superstorm Sandy.
Verizon Communications released this statement:
"Verizon understands the critical function of 911 service, and the critical role we play in successfully delivering calls to 911 from people in distress. We take this role seriously, and when an issue arises, we act quickly to investigate, correct and apply any lessons learned across our system.
Verizon has been an active participant in numerous regulatory and other
agencies' examinations of 911 service issues in the Washington metropolitan
area. These include the Federal Communications Commission, which will issue a
report of its findings; the Virginia State Corporation Commission, which will
issue a report of its findings; the Maryland Public Service Commission, which
is considering a pending case; the Metropolitan Washington Council of
Governments and the Commonwealth of Virginia Secure Commonwealth Panel, both of
which have appointed committees to examine 911 issues. A Congressional
committee held hearings on the issue.
In addition, Verizon conducted a comprehensive internal investigation of the
causes and effects of the 911-related issues associated with last summer's
derecho, and we have acted on the findings, correcting immediate causes and
improving procedures and communications to strengthen the region's 911 services.
As part of this process, we have met individually with each 911 center in the
Washington metropolitan area to review their specific 911 network designs.
Our work was put to the test by Hurricane Sandy. Verizon's network performed
well during and after Sandy, as back-up power seamlessly kicked in when
commercial power to a number of our switching facilities in the region -
including Arlington - was lost.
We will continue to work closely with the public safety community, and with
other local, state and federal government officials to make every effort to
ensure that 911 is available when citizens need it."