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AT&T says service has been restored after widespread cell service outage| GuyWhoKnowsThings

AT&T said Thursday that it had fully restored service to its wireless network after a widespread outage temporarily cut users' connections across the United States for many hours, the cause of which was still under investigation.

The outage, which affected people in cities including Atlanta, Los Angeles and New York, was first reported around 3:30 a.m. ET, according to Downdetector.com, which tracks user reports of telecommunications and Internet outages. At its peak, the site listed about 70,000 service outage reports from the wireless carrier.

Several government agencies said they were investigating the incident, although the Biden administration told reporters that AT&T said there was no reason to think it was a cyberattack.

AT&T did not disclose the extent of the outage or the reason for it. When the outage began Thursday morning, the company listed the cause as “maintenance activity.”

AT&T spokesman Jim Greer apologized in a statement confirming that service was restored and said the company was “taking steps to ensure our customers do not experience this again in the future.”

The outage underscored the importance of connectivity in daily life, as people and businesses were deprived of communications and the ability to use mobile applications. AT&T advised consumers they could make calls over Wi-Fi and sought to respond to angry customers online. Many phones displayed an “SOS” symbol on their screen, indicating they could only make emergency calls, while local governments offered alternative ways to contact 911.

Reports of outages on Downdetector started coming in mid-morning, and at one point the AT&T website showed that The outages were limited to users in California., although users in other states continued to report problems. AT&T-owned Cricket also reported that its users were experiencing wireless service outages and said it was working to restore service.

Reports also emerged Thursday that FirstNet, the network AT&T maintains for emergency services personnel, had experienced outages, but AT&T said around 10:30 a.m. that the network was fully operational.

Verizon experienced 3,000 outage reports at one point Thursday and T-Mobile about half as many. Both companies said in statements that their networks were operating normally.

“Some customers experienced issues this morning calling or texting customers served by another provider,” Verizon said. “We continue to monitor the situation.”

In an email, T-Mobile said it did not experience any outages. “Downdetector likely reflects the challenges our customers had when trying to connect with users on other networks.”

Officials in Washington said they were working to understand the cause of the outage. A Federal Communications Commission spokesman said the investigation into him was being handled by its Office of Public Safety and Homeland Security, which was in contact with AT&T and other carriers.

John Kirby, a spokesman for the National Security Council, said in a call with reporters Thursday that the Biden administration was told “that AT&T has no reason to believe this is a cybersecurity incident,” although he added that they would not be sure. until an investigation was carried out. had been completed.

Kirby said that in addition to the FCC, the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI were working with technology companies to investigate the outage.

The FBI said in a statement that it was in contact with AT&T and would respond accordingly if any malicious activity was found.

Throughout the day, cities urged residents to find alternative ways to reach municipal or emergency services, such as landlines or Wi-Fi-connected phones. He City of Upper Arlington, Ohio, said the fire department may not be notified of fire alarms due to the outage. He urged that any fire alarm be followed by a 911 call.

San Francisco Fire Department said on social media that it was aware of an issue affecting AT&T users trying to call 911. “We are actively participating and monitoring this,” the fire department said. “If you are an AT&T customer and cannot reach 911, try calling from a landline.”

Massachusetts State Police said on social media Thursday morning that 911 call centers across the state were inundated with calls from people checking to see if emergency service was working from their phones. “Please don't do this,” the police said. “If you can successfully make a non-emergency call to another number through your cellular service, then your 911 service will also work.”

Even in less extreme circumstances, the outage complicated many elements of life that depend on a reliable Internet connection.

Staff at First Watch restaurant in Dania Beach, Florida, had to turn away breakfast customers for a time while the outage prevented them from processing payments.

Debra Maddow, who lives in southwest Houston, said she first noticed something was wrong after 7 a.m., when she went to check traffic and Google Maps was offline. Later, she visited a Starbucks to make an urgent call over its free Wi-Fi, she said.

“I'm really frustrated because they're not telling us anything,” Maddow said in a phone interview over Wi-Fi. She said she tried calling AT&T to get an update, but after a long time on hold, the call hung up.

Victor Mather, John Keefe, Zolan Kanno-Youngs and Adam Goldman contributed reports.

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