Skip to main content
Live

AT&T is back – here's everything we know about one of the biggest cellphone outages in recent memory

Had problems with your cell phone signal? You weren't alone

A phone on a pink background showing the logos for AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile
(Image: © AT&T / Verizon / T-Mobile)

A major cellphone outage ravaged the AT&T service in the US on Thursday (and had some knock-on effects for Verizon and T-Mobile customers) leading to thousands of customers complaining about a lack of mobile signal and internet. Some 12 hours later, AT&T reported it had restored cellular service to all customers.

The issues started at around 3.30am ET, according to Downdetector with AT&T seemingly the hardest hit. Other services like Verizon had similar down reports but it's now believed those were mostly due to other carrier customers trying to reach those on the non-functional AT&T network. The main hotspots for issues were in Atlanta, Dallas, and Houston, though customers from numerous other states took to X (formerly Twitter) to report outages.

After initially offering little information about the outage (or even an acknowledgment on its homepage), AT&T started responding to customers on social media and posting regular updates on its news site. At 5:10PM ET, the company posted this message:

"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."

For its part, DownDetector showed AT&T (and all other networks) operating at normal levels.

AT&T has now released a statement explaining that the outage was caused by "the application and execution of an incorrect process used as we were expanding our network, not a cyber attack."  

Read on for all the details of how the outage started, bloomed, was recognized, and eventually managed and stopped.

Refresh

A graph showing reports of a cell phone outage on AT&T

(Image credit: DownDetector)

AT&T the hardest hit

Welcome to this liveblog on the major cell phone network outage that's mainly hitting AT&T, but also Verizon, T-Mobile and some of their related MVNOs (mobile virtual network operator) like Cricket Wireless and FirstNet.

As you can see above from DownDetector, this biggest hit appears to be AT&T – with the number of reported outages from frustrated customers spiraling upwards towards 40,000. The problems started at around 3.38am ET and are mainly hitting Chicago, Houston, Dallas and Atlanta, though many more cities are also affected.

The reports of outages keep coming

Our US Editor-in-chief Lance Ulanoff has posted about the outages on X (below) and is getting some more live info on where the main hotspots are.

Again, it's AT&T customers that appear to be the worst hit, with the network seemingly still down in Austin, Western Connecticut, Florida and Texas. There are some anecdotal signs of recovery on T-Mobile, but its DownDetector graph of reported issues is still on the rise.

See more

No official comment from AT&T – yet

So far, we haven't had any official comment from AT&T, Verizon or T-Mobile about the network outages that are continuing to hit many customers, but we'll continue to chase them up.

On social media, AT&T are acknowledging individual complaints (below) but asking customers to DM them for a resolution. Hopefully we'll get a broader official update soon about what's causing the problems and an estimate of timescales. 

Because the issues appear to be getting worse, according to Downdetector, particularly on AT&T, which has now peaked at over 50,000 complaints.

See more

Emergency services post about the outages

The AT&T outages are so widespread that some emergency services have started posting guidance in some of the worst-hit areas. The San Francisco Fire Department published the below on X (formerly Twitter), stating that its 911 center is still operational and that it's monitoring the situation.

Meanwhile, an official Facebook page for Powell County in Kentucky has stated that it's currently juggling a power outage and the AT&T cellphone issues, which are preventing customers from calling 911. Let's hope both of those get sorted soon. 

See more

Phone symbols showing a network outage

(Image credit: @teddysf)

A recap of the network outage

Just woken up to find your cell phone service looking something like the above? Here's what we know so far. 

The biggest hit network appears to be AT&T, with reports of issues starting at around 3.30am ET on Downdetector – this number has now gone over 64,000 reports, with the hotspots being Houston, Chicago, Dallas and Atlanta (see map below). Cricket Wireless, which is owned by AT&T, has also just hit over 12,000 reports of outages

While customers on those two networks are undoubtedly the worst hit, Verizon and T-Mobile are also showing spikes in reports of 'no signal' and 'mobile internet' issues. These problems all started at around the same time (3.30am ET) and in similar cities, with Houston, Chicago and Dallas again being the source of complaints on Verizon and T-Mobile.

We're expecting to get some official comment from AT&T and other networks soon, as these issues don't appear to be going away.

A map of the United States showing mobile network outages

(Image credit: Downdetector)

A graph showing reports of cell phone issues on AT&T

The latest graph on DownDetector (above) shows over 70,000 reports of issues from AT&T customers, with 41% saying "no signal". But has that spike now peaked? Let's hope so. (Image credit: DownDetector)

The networks start to respond

AT&T has now acknowledged the issue, according to CNN. An AT&T spokesperson said in a statement: "Some of our customers are experiencing wireless service interruptions this morning. We are working urgently to restore service to them. We encourage the use of Wi-Fi calling until service is restored.”

Meanwhile, Verizon and T-Mobile have apparently denied that they have any issues, despite reports to the contrary on Downdetector. A T-Mobile statement, again given to CNN, claimed "we did not experience an outage", while Verizon said that "Verizon’s network is operating normally".

Apparently, Verizon's issues have mainly be reported when customers had issues calling or texting friends on "another carrier". It's fairly obvious that this other carrier is AT&T, though on Downdetector Verizon and T-Mobile both still have around 4,000 and 2,000 customer reports respectively of issues, some of which say they're getting "no signal". 

AT&T technicians working "round the clock"

As #attdown starts to trend on X (formerly Twitter), AT&T's inundated social media crew are starting becoming a little forthcoming in their replies to frustrated customers (see below).

While the previous guidance was to direct message the AT&T account on X, some replies are now acknowledging that "there's an outage in your area" and that "technicians are working round the clock to get this fixed".

The problems started over five hours ago now, so let's hope that doesn't mean it'll take another five hours to fix them.

See more

Verizon

(Image credit: Future)

Verizon is talking to customers

No doubt the level of Verizon issues is far less than those being reported by ATT customers, but even if Verizon is not speaking publicly about these nationwide outages, it is hearing from its customers, and starting to respond.

Verizon customers on X (formerly Twitter) are now complaining their service is out and that some phones are reporting "SOS," which means there's no network.

Verizon's replies are pretty lighthearted at the moment, with no indication that there are any larger issues. In one case, a Verizon representative named Andi wrote:
"We know that dealing with service issues can be frustrating, but we are here to help. Can you share more with us about what you are experiencing?"

This was similar to another response where the Verizon rep asked the customer to describe what they were experiencing. We could help: They're experiencing an outage and want to know what's up.

Verizon

(Image credit: Future)

Verizon: Verizon's network is operating normally

When reached for comment by TechRadar, a Verizon representative gave us this statement: 

"Verizon's network is operating normally. Some customers experienced issues this morning when calling or texting with customers served by another carrier. We are continuing to monitor the situation."

That comment does indicate that there were issues but not how widespread, nor the cause. Worth noting, though, that they are monitoring the situation. And as we noted earlier, Verizon is responding to customer complaints on social media.

ATT

(Image credit: Future)

ATT knows there's a problem

While ATT has yet to issue a formal statement on its growing network problem, it's finally responding to customer complaints on X (formerly Twitter).

When ATT customer "It's_Kahleaa" posted on X "I just want to text my mom @ATT", the service quickly replied with an apology and added, "some of our customers are experiencing wireless service interruptions this morning. We are working urgently to restore service to them."

It also recommended she use Wi-Fi calling until service is restored. That last bit of advice is useful. Many people forget that their providers often support Wi-Fi calling. They could also use FaceTime or a similar Internet-based video service to make a connection.

AT&T admits there's a "nationwide network incident"

An X post from AT&T about network issues

(Image credit: X)

AT&T has gone a bit further than its previously conservative social media posts on the X (formerly Twitter) post above.

It states that there's "a nationwide network incident impacting multiple services", with Cricket Wireless (which is owned by AT&T) hoping to "restore service to full capacity as quickly and safely as possible".

While no official theories have been offered by AT&T on what's causing the issues, a "nationwide network incident" gives us an idea. 

Meanwhile, AT&T has now told us that "some of our customers are experiencing wireless service interruptions this morning. We are working urgently to restore service to them. We encourage the use of Wi-Fi calling until service is restored.”

What's causing the outages?

AT&T's official statement to us below doesn't contain any information about the "nationwide network incident" that its social media team posted about on X (formerly Twitter). What could that be referring to?

Some wilder speculation has pointed to possible interference from recent solar flares, one of which peaked today at 1:32am ET according to NASA. But a more likely explanation is more humdrum network problems. 

Lee McKnight, associate professor in the iSchool at Syracuse University, told us: "The most likely cause is a cloud misconfiguration. Which is a fancy word for saying human error. I was reviewing this exact issue in class yesterday" he said. 

Meanwhile, an anonymous industry source similarly told CNN that the issue is likely down to peering, which is how cellphone services hand off calls from one network to the next. Still, right now, this is all just speculation until we get an official explanation from AT&T and others.

A Downdetector page showing graphs of cellphone network issues

(Image credit: Downdetector)

Are the problems easing?

The number of outages reported on Downdetector for AT&T, Cricket Wireless and other networks are all trending downwards right now, which could be a cause for cautious optimism. Richard Young, a Verizon spokesperson, has also said that the AT&T-related issues are "close to being resolved".

But we did also see signs of recovery earlier before another spike in reports, and Downdetector does also only track self-reported issues – which means it's a useful, but not comprehensive, overview of what's happening. 

Still, let's hope the outages have peaked, and we look forward to seeing a more positive statement from AT&T that goes beyond stating that it's "working urgently to restore service" (which is still it's last official word on the problems).

Will AT&T customers be compensated?

A laptop screen on an orange background showing the AT&T website

(Image credit: AT&T)

If you're one of the many unfortunate people to be hit by AT&T's outages today, you may be wondering if (and how) you'll be able to get compensated for the lack of service.

Well, the company's social media team (below) has stated that "AT&T will be making the necessary adjustments for the missing service due to this inconvenience once the issue is totally fixed."

What isn't yet clear is if this process will be automatic or if you'll need to report the issues. We're confirming that with AT&T, but for now you can find the company's customer care numbers on its Wireless Support page and also check for known outages on AT&T's outages page.  

The issues have been big enough for AT&T to post the banner above clarifying that it's trying to fix them.

See more

AT&T's site for network help is... down

The AT&T logo on a black background

(Image credit: AT&T)

Somewhat fittingly, the website that AT&T is now pointing affected customers towards for updates is now down – most likely from a surge of clicks.

On X (formerly Twitter), AT&T is telling customers looking for more info on today's cellphone issues to go to: http://go.att.com/networkupdate

Unfortunately, this is giving us an error message, but hopefully it'll be back soon.

AT&T just issued a new statement on the widespread network outage that has taken down tens of thousands of customers' wireless service, as reported to DownDetector and other monitoring sites.

At 11:15AM EST, an update was posted on AT&T's website that says: "Some of our customers are experiencing wireless service interruptions this morning. Our network teams took immediate action and so far three-quarters of our network has been restored. We are working as quickly as possible to restore service to remaining customers."

A chart showing a massive network service disruption to AT&T's wireless network

(Image credit: DownDetector)

As of 12:59PM EST, about 10,000 people were reporting an AT&T service disruption on DownDetector, which backs up AT&T's statement that the company had restored a substantial portion of its network by the early afternoon on the east coast.

Frustrated at your wireless service's disruption this afternoon? TechRadar's EIC Lance Ulanoff explores what could have happened, and how the big wireless networks — even those like Verizon who claimed their network were operating normally throughout — need to heed the warning sign this outage is highlighting.

A chart showing a massive network service disruption to AT&T's wireless network

(Image credit: DownDetector)

As of 15 minutes ago, DownDetector is still reporting over 6,000 people experiencing wireless service disruption several hours after reports first started at around 4AM EST.

While we still don't know the exact cause of the outage, given the severity of the disruption and how long it is taking to resolve, there are going to be a lot of questions that need answering when this is over.

I'm not liking that little tick back up at the tail end there, but that's probably just me.

See more

A composite chart showing a massive network service disruption to AT&T's wireless network

(Image credit: DownDetector)

If you want to get a sense of how the outage has been impacting people on the ground, DownDetector's front page is a fascinating demonstration. The main AT&T network outage in the chart above is mountain of red in the back, starting just before 5AM EST.

Everything else layered over that initial chart are apps and services like Apple Support, Spectrum, Xfinity, Google, Gmail, Starlink (!?), and DoorDash. As everyone slept through the early false peak at around 5:30AM, once everyone starts going to work in the morning and none of their apps work and they don't know why, they're thinking the problem is the app itself and not realizing its the whole network. 

So, they report that DoorDash is down, or Facebook, or Gmail, so ultimately, the chart above is a real-time snapshot of how this network outage has messed a whole lot of things up, even things that wouldn't seem to be connected.

But that's the thing about networks. We're increasingly connected in ways that we don't appreciate, and a disruption in the wireless network of a single network provider ripples through everyone's lives in ways both large and small.

A chart showing a massive network service disruption to AT&T's wireless network

(Image credit: DownDetector)

It looks like AT&T's network is mostly back online, but there are still more than 3,600 reports as of 2:26PM EST. The sharp decrease in reported issues seems to have plateaued slightly in the last hour, but that might have more to do with the scale of the chart, which hit a peak of just over 74,000 reports. Whatever the technicians are doing seems to have patched whatever the major problem was, but as service comes back in NYC and I'm able to contact friends around the country, the scale of this outage really is enormous.

Digging into DownDetector's methodology, a single user can only report a problem on a service once every 24 hours, so any subsequent reports about that service aren't counted in the updated figures. So what these down detector charts mean is that only the rate of new reporting is slowing. 

So, if you have a million people who report their service has been disrupted at 1PM, you'll see that massive spike, but if the disruption persists for those users who already reported, that ongoing loss of service won't show up in these charts. Meaning that while the tracking chart shows a marked decrease, it might not mean that it's over for a lot of folks.

Adding up all the reports on the tracker, it looks like almost 2 million people have reported service disruption in the past 12 hours, and the updated figured don't mean that all but 3,600 of them have had their service restored. There's no real way to know that until we get an update from AT&T. 

And those are just the ones who initiate a report on DownDetector's website. Once the dust settles, we'll probably get a more solid number for how many peo