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DHS, FBI Investigating Service Outage on AT&T Mobile Network


Several federal agencies are working with AT&T to identify the cause of a widespread service outage that struck the company’s mobile network Thursday (Feb. 22). 

An undetermined number of AT&T customers in the United States were unable to use their mobile phones for a time Thursday as the mobile carrier experienced this service outage.

Bloomberg reported Thursday that it was not immediately known how many AT&T customers were affected but that the problem was experienced in several cities, including New York, Houston, Atlanta, Miami, Chicago and Dallas.

AT&T, the third-largest retail wireless carrier in the U.S., has about 87 million subscribers, according to the report.

Three other mobile carriers — VerizonT-Mobile and UScellular — also had service disruptions Thursday, but their outages were more limited than that of AT&T, Reuters reported.

AT&T said in a network update posted Thursday at 10:15 a.m. CT: “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.”

About four hours later, in another network update posted at 2:10 p.m. CT, AT&T said: “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.”

Asked about the event during a Thursday press briefing, White House National Security Communications Advisor John Kirby said the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) had been in touch with AT&T, the conversations were ongoing and the organizations were trying to figure out what happened.

“I can tell you that DHS [Department of Homeland Security] and the FBI [Federal Bureau of Investigation] are looking into this as well, working with the tech industry, these network providers, to see what we can do from a federal perspective to lend hand to their investigative efforts to figure out what happened here,” Kirby said.

Kirby added that AT&T had reported that there was no reason to believe that the service outage was a cybersecurity incident but that the investigation was in its early stages.