T-Mobile 'ghost calls' clog Dallas 911. Families blame backlog for deaths. [telecom]

T-Mobile "ghost calls" clog Dallas 911. Families blame backlog for deaths.

T-Mobile customers in Dallas have been creating backlogs at the city's 911 call center since October.

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Monty Solomon
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In reading the article, it is clear that it is a disgrace that a critical service was allowed to decay to the extent and as long as it did. Both T-Mobile and the city of Dallas bear responsibility.

The article said when a T-Mobile subscriber in Dallas called 911 and was placed on hold, the phone began to redial, overloading the 911 center. The center had to call back each attempt, per policy.

However, based on what was reported in the above article, the problem is puzzling. It _appears_ that only T-Mobile and only Dallas were impacted. Why not other cities? Why not other cell phones? There very well may be details not reported.

One question is the call-back policy of the 911 center. While a desirable policy, it should've been suspended when the center was overwhelmed; I would guess almost all hangups were not emergencies, and regular incoming calls should've had priority. (Or callbacks could've been handled by auxiliary personnel using regular lines, not tying up the 911 system.)

Anyway, in the absence of more information, it would seem that a mission-critical problem such as this should've had both city telecom engineers and T-Mobile engineers working long hours to resolve the issue (maybe they were, I don't know what they did). It certainly seems strange that the problem lasted as long as it did. Note that the principle of putting a telephone line on HOLD was established 80 years, you'd think by now they'd have the circuitry down pat, but maybe they were trying for something fancy. (Comments from telecom engineers on this issue would be welcome and appreciated.)

For an historical note, below is a link to a Bell System advertisement of 10/20/1972, "Teach him to dial "0" and he'll always have a friend."

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