AT&T customers reported a major outage, disrupting phone service across America



CNN

AT&T's network was down for many of its customers across the United States on Thursday morning, leaving customers unable to make calls, send text messages or access the Internet. By late morning, the company said most of its network had been restored.

The Federal Communications Commission confirmed Thursday afternoon that it was investigating the outage. The White House says federal agencies are in contact with AT&T about the network outage, But it doesn't have all the answers yet about what exactly led to the outages.

Although Verizon and T-Mobile customers reported some network outages as well, they appeared to be much less widespread. T-Mobile and Verizon said their networks were not affected by the AT&T outage, and customers who reported outages may not have been able to reach customers using AT&T.

What can you do if you don't have the service?

If you're an AT&T customer and don't have access to phone, text, or the Internet, you can turn on Wi-Fi calling. If you have access to Wi-Fi, you should be able to call and text.

On Thursday morning, more than 74,000 AT&T customers reported outages on the digital service tracking website DownDetector, with the outage starting around 4 a.m. ET. This is not a comprehensive number: it only tracks self-reported outages. Reports had been rising steadily throughout the morning but stabilized at 9 a.m. ET. As of 12:30 PM ET, DownDetector data showed that about 25,000 AT&T customers were still reporting outages. By 2 p.m. ET, fewer are More than 5,000 customers are still reporting issues.

AT&T acknowledged that there were widespread outages but did not provide a reason for the system failure.

“Some of our customers are experiencing an outage in wireless service this morning. We are working urgently to restore service to them,” AT&T said in a statement. “We encourage the use of Wi-Fi calling until service is restored.”

To set up Wi-Fi calling, users can go to the Settings app on their phone. iPhone users have to tap on “Cellular” and Android users have to tap on “Connection” after which users will be asked to turn on the Wi-Fi calling feature. AT&T he says on his website There is no additional cost for this feature. Once set up, Wi-Fi calling works automatically when you're connected to the Wi-Fi network of your choice.

By late morning, AT&T said most of its network was back online.

“Our network teams took immediate action and so far three-quarters of our network has been restored,” the company said. “We are working as quickly as possible to restore service to remaining customers.”

The company did not have a time frame to fully restore its system. AT&T responds to customer complaints online, asking them to send messages directly to customer service.

AT&T stock fell more than 2% on Thursday, an outlier for the day it was The market was skyrocketing.

The reason for the outage is still unknown

AT&T has experienced scattered outages over the past few days, including a temporary outage of 911 service in some parts of the southeastern United States. Although outages do occur from time to time, long-lasting outages are very rare nationwide.

Although AT&T did not provide any official reason for the outage, the issue appears to be related to how cellular services hand off calls from one network to another, a process known as peering, according to an industry source who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The industry source said there was no indication that Thursday's outage was the result of a cyberattack or other malicious activity.

However, the US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency is “working closely with AT&T to understand the cause and effects of the outage, and to address this issue.”[s] Eric Goldstein, the agency's associate executive director for cybersecurity, said in a statement to CNN that the company stands ready to provide any assistance needed.

The Department of Homeland Security and the FBI are looking into the matter and working with partners in the technology industry “to see what we can do from a federal perspective to provide assistance in their investigations,” White House national security spokesman John Kirby said Thursday afternoon. Efforts to find out what happened here.

Kirby said the work is still ongoing.

“The bottom line is we don't have all the answers to that. I mean, this happened earlier today. So we're working hard to see if we can get to the truth on the ground about exactly what happened,” Kirby said.

Verizon believes the nationwide power outage involving AT&T customers is “close to being resolved,” according to Richard Young, a Verizon spokesman.

Telecom companies are known to remain silent about the reason for the downtime of their networks. In the past, there have been construction accidents that led to fiber optic cables being cut, incidents of vandalism or network updates riddled with errors that became difficult to undo.

Several communications experts told CNN that outages often occur for mundane reasons.

Common causes include construction-related potholes that puncture fiber-optic cables and software misconfigurations that can lead to outages, said TJ Kennedy, a public safety communications expert.

“I can't think of every incident that's happened in the last few years, but I can think of router-related things, connectivity-related things, software-related things,” Kennedy said. “This has happened across all major carriers, several times in the last few years alone.”

Thursday's outage may have been caused by human errors in AT&T's cloud networking system, said Lee McKnight, an assistant professor at Syracuse University's College of Information Studies.

“The dirty secret of communications networks these days is that they are just a bunch of wires and towers connected to the cloud“,” McKnight said. “Someone makes a mistake, and others on their team — and their automated tools — can't catch the error, which is very common in cloud computing.”

Several local governments said the AT&T outage was disrupting their services.

San Francisco Emergency Management said Statement on X Thursday morning, its 911 center remained operational, but many AT&T customers were unable to reach the emergency line due to outages. She suggested people call from a landline or find someone with a competing service to call 911.

“We are aware of an issue affecting AT&T wireless customers from making and receiving any phone calls (including to 911),” the department said in its post. “We are actively participating and monitoring this.”

The Upper Arlington, Ohio, fire department said the AT&T power outage was affecting fire alarms. St. Joseph County, Michigan, advised residents to use Wi-Fi to make 911 calls if they cannot reach 911 on the AT&T network. Cobb County, Georgia, said its 911 operations were not affected by the outage, but noticed customers may want to find alternative ways to access emergency services. Cabell County, West Virginia, said customers who can't reach 911 can text 911 as a last resort.

New York Police Department officials told CNN they were unable to make calls or use emails on AT&T phones Thursday morning unless they were connected to Wi-Fi.

Massachusetts State Police are warning people not to test their phone service by making 911 calls.

“Many 911 centers in the state are being inundated with calls from people trying to find out if 911 is working from their cell phones,” state police said in a Share on X. “If you can successfully place a non-emergency call to another number through your cellular service, your 911 service will work as well.”

Meanwhile, Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens said the city is “actively gathering information to determine how the City of Atlanta can help solve this issue,” in a statement. Statement published on X. Dickens said e-911 in Atlanta is able to take incoming calls and make outgoing calls, and he encouraged AT&T customers to direct inquiries to restore service to the company.

An AT&T spokesperson said the company's FirstNet network remained operational. FirstNet provides coverage for first responders and is advertised as a more robust network than AT&T's commercial network. It uses a combination of its own infrastructure as well as AT&T's broader network. Its clients include police and fire departments, as well as first responders during natural disasters.

Verizon and T-Mobile say they are not affected

The DownDetector website notes that about 1,000 outages were also reported by Verizon and T-Mobile customers Thursday morning.

“We have not experienced any outages,” T-Mobile said in a statement. “Our network is operating normally.”

Verizon had a similar comment, saying it was not affected by the AT&T outage.

“Verizon’s network is operating normally,” Verizon told CNN in a statement. “Some customers experienced issues this morning when calling or sending text messages to customers served by another carrier. We are continuing to monitor the situation.”

The company added that user reports on Downdetector about T-Mobile service outages “likely reflect challenges our customers were experiencing while trying to connect to users on other networks.”

Downdetector provides “real-time status information for more than 12,000 services across 47 locations representing 47 countries,” the site says.

The Federal Communications Commission confirmed Thursday afternoon that it was investigating the incident.

“We are aware of the reported wireless outages, and our Office of Public Safety and Homeland Security is actively investigating,” the FCC said in a statement Thursday afternoon. to publish On X. “We are in contact with AT&T and public safety authorities, including FirstNet, as well as other providers.”

The FCC requires telecommunications companies to report information related to network outages.

Before news that the FCC was investigating the outages, a former FCC official told CNN: “Telcos are required to report their outage numbers over time, and the Commission can track the number of consumers and cell sites.” And things like that.”

Blair Levin, a communications policy analyst and another former FCC official, said fines may be possible in connection with 911 outages, though they are not certain.

“The FCC cares very much about not being able to call 911 [than other types of calls]Levin said. “It's a much more serious problem from the FCC's perspective.”

The former top FCC official said telecommunications companies have every reason to fix any outages quickly, “because it causes damage to the brand.”

“Everyone's incentives are aligned,” the former official said. “The FCC will want to know why so that lessons can be learned. If they find irregularities or misdeeds, or just poor quality of network oversight, they are free to act.”

This is a developing story and will be updated.

CNN's Carol Alvarado, Sean Lingas, John Miller and Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.

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