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AT&T outage eases after disrupting cellular services for thousands

The company logo for AT&T is displayed on a screen on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., September 18, 2019. (REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo)
By Aditya Soni and David Shepardson | REUTERS

AT&T said three-quarters of its network has been restored after a cellular phone outage on Thursday hit thousands of users in the U.S., disrupting calls and text messages as well as emergency services in major cities.

The wireless carrier, whose 5G network covers around 290 million people across the country, has been grappling with interruptions to its service for more than eight hours.

“We are working as quickly as possible to restore service to remaining customers,” AT&T said on its website. It did not provide a reason for the outage or the number of affected users.

The company’s shares were down 2.3% in late morning trading, with nearly 60,000 incidents of outages reported around 11:15 a.m. ET (1615 GMT), according to tracking website Downdetector.com.

The outage has affected people’s ability to reach emergency services by dialing 911, according to posts on the X social media platform by government departments in several U.S. cities.

“We are aware of an issue impacting AT&T wireless customers from making and receiving any phone calls (including to 911), the San Francisco Fire Department said on X.

The Prince William County Police Department in Virginia and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department in North Carolina posted similar statements on the platform.

Downdetector showed users of Verizon, T-Mobile and UScellular also faced disruptions.
But the companies said their network was operating normally and the outage was potentially related to customers trying to connect with other networks.

U.S. Senator Rick Scott of Florida said he had reached out to AT&T to get an update on the outage.

“Florida law enforcement is doing everything it can to keep people safe, and I expect AT&T to keep us informed on what it is doing to get 911 services fully back online ASAP,” he said in a post on X.
The Federal Communications Commission did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether it was investigating the outage.

In 2021, the regulatory agency settled a probe into a T-Mobile outage during the pandemic that lasted over 12 hours and led to more than 20,000 failed 911 emergency calls for $19.5 million.

Editor’s Note: Reporting by Aditya Soni and Harshita Mary Varghese in Bengaluru and David Shepardson in Washington; additional reporting by Nilutpal Timsina, Arsheeya Bajwa and Priyanka G; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta, Anil D’Silva, Arun Koyyur and Jonathan Oatis

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