AT&T outage resolved, authorities investigating | CNN Business (2024)

By Aditi Sangal and Catherine Thorbecke, CNN

Updated 5:29 PM EST, Thu February 22, 2024

AT&T outage resolved, authorities investigating | CNN Business (3)

Video Ad Feedback

AT&T urges customers to use Wi-Fi while service is down

02:06 - Source: CNN

What we covered here

  • AT&T acknowledged a widespread network outage across the United States, leaving customers unable to place calls, text or access the internet.
  • By mid-afternoon ET, the company said the outage was resolved. “We sincerely apologize,” the company said in a statement.
  • While AT&T provided no official reason for the outage, the issue appears to be related to how cellular services hand off calls from one network to the next, an industry source said. There’s no indication the outage is a result of a cyberattack or other malicious activity, the source added.
  • T-Mobile and Verizon said their networks were unaffected by AT&T’s service outage, and customers reporting outages may have been unable to reach customers who use AT&T.

Our live coverage has ended. Read more about Thursday’s outage in the posts below.

21 Posts

AT&T says it has restored wireless service

AT&T outage resolved, authorities investigating | CNN Business (4)

A cell tower in Los Angeles is pictured on February 22.

AT&T said in a statement that it has now resolved the day’s massive service outage.

“We have restored wireless service to all our affected customers.We sincerely apologize to them.Keeping our customers connected remains our top priority, and we are taking steps to ensure our customers do not experience this again in the future,” the company statement said.

No indication of malicious cyber activity so far, US cyber official says

From CNN's Sean Lyngaas

A US cyber official tracking the AT&T outage told CNN there has so far been no indication that the outage was caused by malicious cyber activity, but the investigation is ongoing.

Fewer than 5,000 AT&T customers still reporting outages

From CNN's Catherine Thorbecke

As of approximately 2 pm ET, fewer than 5,000 AT&T customers were still reporting outages, according to self-reported data tracked by DownDetector.

The FCC says it is investigating the outage

From CNN's Catherine Thorbecke

The Federal Communications Commission confirmed Thursday afternoon that it is investigating the AT&T outage.

“We are aware of the reported wireless outages, and our Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau is actively investigating,” the FCC said in a statement Thursday afternoon that was posted on X.

“We are in touch with AT&T and public safety authorities, including FirstNet, as well as other providers,” the agency added.

WH: Federal agencies still working to get to bottom of AT&T outages

From CNN’s Kevin Liptak
AT&T outage resolved, authorities investigating | CNN Business (5)

National Security spokesperson John Kirby attends a news briefing at the White House in Washington, DC, on February 15.

The White House says federal agencies are in touch with AT&T about network outages Thursday but that it doesn’t have all the answers yet on what exactly transpired that led to the interruptions.

National Security spokesman John Kirby said the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI were looking into the matter and working with partners in the tech industry to “see what we can do from a federal perspective to lend a hand to their investigative efforts to figure out what happened here.”

Kirby said that work was still ongoing.

“The bottom line is we don’t have all the answers to that. I mean, this just happened earlier today. And so we’re working very hard to see if we can get to the ground truth of exactly what happened,” he said.

Tens of thousands of AT&T customers still say they have no service

From CNN's Catherine Thorbecke

As of approximately 12:30 pm ET, some 25,000 AT&T customers were still reporting outages, per data compiled by tracking site DownDetector. (DownDetector, notably, only tracks self-reported outages).

Still, the latest figure is a steep fall from the peak of some 74,000 AT&T customers reporting outages at around 9 am ET.

The DownDetector data indicates the widespread outage began around 4 am ET.

Telecom experts tell CNN that outages typically happen for mundane reasons

From CNN's Brian Fung
AT&T outage resolved, authorities investigating | CNN Business (6)

A "No Service" message is seen on an iPhone in Atlanta during an AT&T outage on February 22.

While Thursday’s AT&T outage grabbed national headlines, outages do happen and usually for mundane reasons, several telecom experts told CNN.

Common causes include construction-related digging that punctures fiber optic cables andsoftware misconfigurations that can lead to interruptions, said TJ Kennedy, a public safety communications expert.

“I can’t think of every incident in the last few years, but I can think of things related to routers, things related to backhaul, things related to software,” Kennedy said. “This has happened across all major carriers, multiple times in the past few years alone.”

Thursday’s outage could have been caused by human errors in AT&T’s cloud-based networking system, said Lee McKnight, an associate professor at the Syracuse University School of Information Studies.

“The dirty secret of telecom networks these days is they are just a bunch of wires and towers connected to the cloud,”McKnight said. “Someone making a mistake, and others on their team — and their automated tools — not catching it, is quite common in cloud computing.”

The FCC will almost certainly investigate the outage, experts tell CNN

From CNN's Brian Fung

The Federal Communications Commission will almost certainly investigate this week’s incident, multiple experts said. The FCC requires carriers to report information linked to network disruptions.

“The carriers are required to report their outage numbers over time, and the commission can track the number of consumers and cell sites down and things like that,” said a former FCC official.

Telecom carriers have every reason to fix any outages quickly, said the former FCC official, “because it creates black eyes for the brand.”

“Everybody’s incentives are aligned,” the former official said. “The FCC is going to want to know what caused it so that lessons can be learned. And if they find malfeasance or bad actions or, just poor quality of oversight of the network, they have the latitude to act.”

Gov. Ron DeSantis: "Think about the implications if something like that happened on a much grander scale"

From CNN’s Rebekah Riess
AT&T outage resolved, authorities investigating | CNN Business (7)

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at a press conference in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, on February 22.

Florida Governor and former GOP presidential candidate Ron DeSantis opened an unrelated press conference on Thursday with comments regarding the ongoing AT&T network outage, affecting thousands of customers.

The governor said his office had been in touch with AT&T, who told them they were working to put customers back online, but were focusing on restoring emergency services. DeSantis said AT&T did not speak about what had caused the outage.

“You think about just your daily life, like having cell phones, honestly, it’s like, imagine if we had like an EMP attack or something like that would end up happening this country,” DeSantis said. “It’s not necessarily a good thought, because you think you’re just so naturally reliant on having cell service (…) so it’s a little bit jarring and think about the implications if something like that happened on much grander scale.”

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency is “working closely with AT&T"

From CNN's Sean Lyngaas

The federal Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency is “working closely with AT&T to understand the cause of the outage and its impacts, and stand[s] ready to offer any assistance needed,” Eric Goldstein, the agency’s executive assistant director for cybersecurity, said in a statement to CNN.

AT&T says 75% of its network is restored

From CNN's David Goldman

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

How to set up Wi-Fi calling on AT&T phones

From CNN's Catherine Thorbecke

As the widespread outage persists, AT&T is encouraging users to use Wi-Fi calling until full service is restored. Wi-Fi calling lets users call and text using a wireless internet connection.

To set up Wi-Fi calling, users can go to their Settings app on their phone. iPhone users should tap “Cellular” and Android users should click “Connection” and then users will be prompted to turn on the Wi-Fi calling feature.

AT&T says on its website that there is no extra cost for this feature. Once set up, Wi-Fi calling works automatically when you’re connected to a Wi-Fi that you choose.

Atlanta mayor says city actively gathering information to help resolve cell outage issue

From CNN's Catherine Thorbecke

Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens said the city is “actively gathering information to determine how the City of Atlanta can assist in resolving this issue,” as local officials scramble to respond to the ongoing outage Thursday.

“Atlanta’s e-911 is able to receive inbound and make outbound calls,” Dickens said in a statement on X. “We have received calls from AT&T customers that their cellular phones are in SOS mode. Please direct all inquiries to restore service to AT&T.”

AT&T recently applied for a waiver to allow it to stop servicing traditional landlines in California

From CNN's Samantha Murphy Kelly
AT&T outage resolved, authorities investigating | CNN Business (8)

The AT&T corporate headquarters in Dallas is pictured on March 13, 2020.

Just a few weeks ago, AT&Tapplied for a waiverthat would allow it to stop servicing traditional landlines in California.

An AT&T spokesperson cited a “precipitous decline” in demand for landlines and told CNN it wantedto be fully operational on newer infrastructure within the next few years.

That’s part of a sweeping move by phone service providers to replace older copper wire-based telephone systems lines, also known as Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS),with faster and more advanced technology that doesn’t work with landlines.

Consumers will have to decide whether to give up their landlines or potentially face higher costs because of complex, expensive workarounds fromthe phone companies. Currently, the cost for fixed wireless access typically runs about $69 per month, while ethernet costs about $100.

The shift away from copper landlines will most likely impact people over age 65, small business owners and rural areas, experts say.

Read more about the move away from landlines and its impact here.

Massachusetts police: Do not call 911 to test your cell service

From CNN's David Goldman

The Massachusetts State Police warned people not to test their phone service by placing 911 calls.

What is Downdetector?

From CNN's David Goldman

More than 74,000 AT&T customers reported outages on the digital service tracking site Downdetector.

The site records self-reported outages and is not meant to be a comprehensive number. But with people often wondering why they can’t access a service or a network, it’s a quick and dirty tool for customers to determine whether a service is down or if it’s just them.

The Downdetector service is powered by Ookla, a network insights brand that performs speed and performance metrics for customers.

Downdetector offers “real-time status information for over 12,000 services across 47 websites representing 47 countries,” the company’s website says.

AT&T says its first responder network remains operational

From CNN's David Goldman

An AT&T spokesperson said the company’s FirstNet network has remained operational throughout the nationwide outage of the carrier’s commercial network.

FirstNet provides coverage for first responders and is advertised as a more robust network than the AT&T commercial network. It uses a mix of its own infrastructure plus AT&T’s broader network.

The customers include police and fire departments, as well as first responders during natural disasters.

Why AT&T went down

From CNN's Melissa AlonsoandBrian Fung

AT&T has encountered sporadic outages over the past few days, including a temporary 911 outage in some parts of the southeastern United States. Although outages happen from time to time, nationwide, prolonged outages are exceedingly rare.

Although AT&T provided no official reason for the outage, the issue appears to be related to how cellular services hand off calls from one network to the next, a process known as peering, according to an industry source who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

There’s no indication that Thursday’s outage was the result of a cyberattack or other malicious activity, the industry source said.

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

Carriers are notoriously mum about why their networks go down. In the past, there have been construction accidents that have cut fiberoptic cables, incidents of sabotage or network updates filled with bugs that became difficult to roll back.

More than 73,000 AT&T customers reported outages

From CNN's Melissa AlonsoandBrian Fung
AT&T outage resolved, authorities investigating | CNN Business (9)

A "No Service" message is seen on an iPhone in Atlanta during an AT&T outage on February 22.

More than 73,000 AT&T customers reported outages on digital-service tracking siteDownDetector. That’s not a comprehensive number: It tracks only self-reported outages. Although outage reports fell a bit in the 5 a.m. ET hour, they bounced back in the 7 a.m. ET hour and continue to surge.

AT&T acknowledged that it has a widespread outage but did not provide a reason for the system failure.

The company said some parts of its network are beginning to recover but it did not have a timeframe for when its system would be fully restored. AT&T has been responding to customer complaints online, asking them to send direct messages to customer service.

What to do if you have no service: If you are an AT&T customer without 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 send texts.

Verizon believes outage involving AT&T customers "close to being resolved"

From CNN’s Brian Fung

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

Earlier on Thursday, Verizon said its network was operating normally, according to a statement.

“Some customers experienced issuesthis morningwhen calling or texting with customers served by another carrier. We are continuing to monitor the situation,” Verizon said.

Other providers are reporting some outage — but it's not as widespread as AT&T

From CNN's Melissa AlonsoandBrian Fung

Although Verizon and T-Mobile customers reported some network outages, too, they appeared far less widespread.

T-Mobile and Verizon said their networks were unaffected by AT&T’s service outage and customers reporting outages may have been unable to reach customers who use AT&T.

Ad Feedback

Ad Feedback

Ad Feedback

AT&T outage resolved, authorities investigating | CNN Business (2024)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Virgilio Hermann JD

Last Updated:

Views: 6172

Rating: 4 / 5 (41 voted)

Reviews: 80% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Virgilio Hermann JD

Birthday: 1997-12-21

Address: 6946 Schoen Cove, Sipesshire, MO 55944

Phone: +3763365785260

Job: Accounting Engineer

Hobby: Web surfing, Rafting, Dowsing, Stand-up comedy, Ghost hunting, Swimming, Amateur radio

Introduction: My name is Virgilio Hermann JD, I am a fine, gifted, beautiful, encouraging, kind, talented, zealous person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.