For the seocnd time in four months, AT&T ‘s issue caused problems for U.S. wireless users

For the seocnd time in four months, AT&T ‘s issue caused problems for U.S. wireless users

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We now have a better idea about what caused Verizon, AT&T, US Cellular, Cricket Wireless, and Consumer Cellular to be listed on DownDetector as having problems based on the number of complaints that the site received from subscribers to those wireless providers. According to CNN, the whole problem revolved around a “nationwide issue” that prevented AT&T customers from calling non-AT&T users and vice versa.

The problem was resolved at 8:30 pm EDT, about seven hours after complaints started to be submitted to DownDetector from AT&T subscribers. An AT&T spokesman said, “The interoperability issue between carriers has been resolved. We collaborated with the other carrier to find a solution and appreciate our customers’ patience during this period.” The interoperability issue is what caused Verizon customers to submit enough complaints to DownDetector to turn the carrier’s graph red indicating a problem.

Also affected by this was US Cellular. Our original story noted that the wireless firm had been down according to DownDetector. A US Cellular spokeswoman later sent us an email that obviously was referring to AT&T’s problem. The spokeswoman said, “UScellular’s network is operating normally and not experiencing an outage. We are however aware of a disruption that could be impacting UScellular customers attempting to call customers of another carrier.”

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Cricket Wireless and Consumer Cellular both showed up on the DownDetector problem list because both are MVNOs (Mobile Virtual Network Operators) that use the AT&T network to provide service to their customers. AT&T’s network problems are their problems as well.

During the AT&T outage, some areas such as Camden County, Georgia, and Scranton, Pennsylvania warned AT&T subscribers that they might not be able to call 911 for help over the AT&T network. Both locations revealed a regular 10-digit phone number to call if 911 wasn’t working. AT&T told CNN that those alerts were accidentally triggered and that 911 calls from its subscribers did go through during the outage.

Just last February, a similar situation unfolded when it appeared that AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile were all down at the same time. Just like today’s situation, the problem turned out to be an issue with AT&T which affected calls to and from the latter’s customers to Verizon and T-Mobile subscribers. The FCC is still investigating what happened on that February day. AT&T attributed the outage to “the application and execution of an incorrect process used as we were expanding our network, not a cyberattack.”

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