Mobile telecommunications outages reported in several US cities

Outage appears to be centred on AT&T, the largest mobile phone network in the US.

The company logo for AT&T
AT&T operates the largest US mobile phone network [File: Brendan McDermid/Reuters]

Several United States cities have experienced cellular outages with thousands of users reporting disruptions to the country’s primary telecommunications services, including AT&T, Verizon and TMobile.

AT&T, the largest US mobile phone company, was the worst affected on Thursday, with other companies denying issues, with other companies stating that any connection issues were not related to their own networks.

More than 50,000 incidents were reported about 7am East Coast time (12:00 GMT), according to data from the outage tracking website

The website showed that the impacted cities included San Francisco, Houston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and Boston.

By Thursday afternoon, AT&T said three quarters of its network had been restored. However, the Federcal Communications Commission said that it was investigating the incident, while the US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency said it was working with AT&T to understand the cause.

On X, the San Francisco Fire Department said the outage impacted people’s ability to reach emergency services.

“We are aware of an issue impacting AT&T wireless customers from making and receiving any phone calls,” including the 911 emergency number, the department said.

It added that it was “actively engaged and monitoring this”.

The Flagler County Sheriff’s Office in Florida also tweeted: “Texts to 911 from affected AT&T users are now being received. If you have an emergency and cannot dial out, send a text message to 911.”

North Carolina’s Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department also said it was aware of the outage but there were “no disruptions” to its ability to receive emergency calls.

The outage has attracted political attention, with White House spokesperson John Kirby saying that the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security were looking it.

“We are being told AT&T has no reason to think this was a cyber or security incident,” said Kirby. “But the bottom line is we don’t have all the answers.”

Several users took to X to complain about the service outage with some AT&T users reporting that their iPhones were stuck in SOS mode due to the loss of connection.

“The #attoutage is affecting people’s livelihood. My dad drives Uber and can’t make a living until his cell service is working. Are you going to be refunding people @ATT ?” one user wrote.

Others questioned whether the outage was due to missed phone bill payments.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies