AT&T’s Service Restored After Hour-Long 911 Outage
AT&T has restored its service after experiencing an outage that left some users unable to dial 911 by way of their mobile devices last Wednesday. The said outage happened at around 7:40 PM EST and lasted about an hour. The scope of the service outage has not been made clear yet, although some reports indicate that it was countrywise, while others said it only happened in several regions in the United States. AT&T is refusing to directly address how many users or which states and areas were affected. But a spokesperson for the major US wireless carrier did say that service has been fully restored.
State officials in Florida, Oregon, Texas and several affected areas did tell their respective residents to dial phone numbers other than 911 or to text other numbers in order report any emergency. Ajit Pai, the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), has taken to social media to remark about the incident. In his tweet, Pai also stated that the FCC will look into what caused the outage and to the extent of the disruption.
While outages in wireless networks are rare, they do happen even for major wireless carriers. Back in September of last year for instance, T-Mobile experienced a countrywide failure of its LTE network. And weeks before that, AT&T’s prepaid subsidiary Cricket Wireless also was compelled to offer $5 in credit to customers affected by an outage. Then about a year ago, it also happened to Sprint, affecting the Northeast US, specifically the 3G and 4G networks in Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. Verizon Wireless also had an outage last June.
Based on those accounts, AT&T is hardly the only mobile operator to deal with outages. But considering that the wireless carrier is viewed by many as the likely operator to land the FirstNet contract, outages such as this recent one are more awkward than most. For those not familiar with the FirstNet deal, winning this contract would give a carrier the right to supply America’s first broadband network that is dedicated to public safety. To be perfectly clear, it is not a done deal yet, but if AT&T becomes the winner, it will have a 25 year contract in its hands to make full use of 20 MegaHertz of 700 MegaHertz beachfront spectrum, plus $6.5 billion for designing and operating the US network for federal, state, and local authorities, as well as the right to sell excess capacity on the system.