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AT&T Outage: What Happened and How to Avoid It in the Future

On Thursday, February 22, 2024, millions of AT&T customers in the U.S. experienced a wireless service disruption that lasted for several hours. The company blamed the outage on a software update that went wrong and assured customers that it was not a cyberattack. Here is everything you need to know about the AT&T outage and how to prevent it from happening again.

What caused the AT&T outage?

According to AT&T, the outage was caused by “the application and execution of an incorrect process used as we were expanding our network.” The company did not provide more details on what exactly went wrong, but sources familiar with the situation said that the software update was not malicious or nefarious.

The outage affected both voice and data services, preventing customers from making and receiving calls, sending and receiving texts, and accessing the internet. Some customers were able to use Wi-Fi calling as a workaround, while others had no service at all.

The outage also impacted emergency services, as some customers were unable to call 9-1-1. Several police departments and municipalities issued warnings and advised people to use alternative methods to contact emergency responders.

The outage started around 10 a.m. ET and lasted until around 4 p.m. ET, when AT&T announced that it had restored wireless service to all affected customers. The company apologized for the inconvenience and said that it was taking steps to ensure that it would not happen again.

How Did the Authorities React to the AT&T Outage?

The AT&T outage raised concerns about the security and reliability of the nation’s telecommunications infrastructure. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and other agencies launched investigations to determine the cause and scope of the outage.

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The U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), which is responsible for monitoring cyber threats, said that there were no indications of malicious activity behind the outage. However, the agency also said that it had no comment on the outage and referred questions to AT&T.

The FCC said that it was in touch with AT&T to figure out what caused the outage and how to prevent it from happening again. The agency’s chairman, Ajit Pai, said that he was “deeply concerned” about the outage and that he expected a full explanation from the company.

The National Security Communications Advisor, John Kirby, said that the DHS and the FBI were also looking into the outage and working with the tech industry and network providers to enhance their investigative efforts. He said that the bottom line was that they did not have all the answers and that they were working hard to get to the truth.

How to Avoid the AT&T Outage in the Future?

The AT&T outage was a rare and unexpected event that affected millions of customers across the country. While the company said that it was taking steps to prevent it from happening again, customers may want to take some precautions to avoid being left without service in the future.

Here are some tips to prepare for a potential wireless service outage:

  • Enable Wi-Fi calling: Wi-Fi calling allows you to make and receive calls and texts over a Wi-Fi network, even if your cellular network is down. To enable Wi-Fi calling on your AT&T device, go to Settings > Phone > Wi-Fi Calling and turn it on. You may need to enter your emergency address and confirm your eligibility.
  • Use alternative communication apps: If Wi-Fi calling is not available or not working, you can use other apps that allow you to communicate over the Internet. For example, you can use WhatsApp, Skype, Facebook Messenger, or Google Hangouts to make voice and video calls and send messages. You will need a Wi-Fi connection and the app installed on your device and the recipient’s device.
  • Have a backup phone or device: If you have a spare phone or device that uses a different carrier or network, you can use it as a backup in case of an outage. You can also use a prepaid phone or a mobile hotspot that can provide internet access to your devices. Make sure to keep your backup phone or device charged and ready to use.
  • Stay informed and updated: If you experience a service disruption, you can check the AT&T website, social media accounts, or customer service for updates and information. You can also use websites like DownDetector or Outage. Report to see if other customers are reporting the same issue and where the outage is occurring.
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The AT&T outage was a frustrating and inconvenient experience for many customers, but it also highlighted the importance of having reliable and secure wireless service. By following these tips, you can prepare for a possible outage and stay connected with your family, friends, and emergency services.

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