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AT&T says widespread outage was not caused by cyberattack

The Dallas-based company said the outage was the result of a technical glitch that happened as it was expanding its network.
AT&T says widespread outage was not caused by cyberattack
Posted at 7:37 AM, Feb 23, 2024

AT&T says the widespread outage to its cell phone network that left thousands of customers in the United States without service appears to have been caused by a technical glitch and was not caused by a cyberattack. 

The Dallas-based company said it has restored service to about three-quarters of its customers after tens of thousands of Americans woke up Thursday morning unable to make calls or send texts.

"Based on our initial review, we believe that today’s outage was caused by the application and execution of an incorrect process used as we were expanding our network, not a cyber attack," the company said in a statement. "We are continuing our assessment of today’s outage to ensure we keep delivering the service that our customers deserve."

AT&T customers across the country began reporting outages on the website Down Detector early Thursday morning.  The outage continued for several hours into the morning, which meant phones were left in SOS mode and only allowed to make emergency calls.

SEE MORE: What is Apple's SOS mode, and why were our phones stuck in it?

There was a peak of some 73,000 reports of interrupted service early in the day, but by Thursday afternoon, Down Detector showed that outages had declined significantly. 

Users of several other cellphone services, including Cricket Wireless, Verizon and T-Mobile, also reported sporadic outages. However, those outages did not appear to be as widespread. 

It was initially speculated that the outage may have been the result of a malicious attack on the network, or even a solar flare — which can disrupt satellite communications and other technologies. The Federal Communications Commission and the FBI said their agencies are investigating the matter. 

"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. "We are in touch with AT&T and public safety authorities, including FirstNet, as well as other providers." 

According to 2023 Statista data, AT&T is the nation's largest cellphone provider with 46% share of the industry.

SEE MORE: AT&T to credit $5 to customers impacted by the widespread outage

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