AT&T explains what caused yesterday’s outage

AT&T apologizes for outage although a cyberattack has not yet been definitively ruled out
There's no doubt that the big news of the day was the outage that took AT&T down early in the morning on Thursday. Subscribers of MVNOs using AT&T's network to deliver service, such as Cricket, also found themselves having to deal with the great wireless outage of 2024. While Verizon and T-Mobile stated that their networks were up and had never gone out, subscribers of the pair were unable to connect to friends and family using AT&T. That gave the illusion that all three major carriers were out.

Consumers were so worried about not being able to make a 911 call that one police department was flooded with calls from those just dialing to see if they could get connected to the police. And in the back of everyone's mind was the concern that a cyber attack had set off the incident. Some local governments faced disruptions from the AT&T outage and the NYPD said that it could not make calls or read emails on AT&T-connected handsets unless they were hooked up to a Wi-Fi signal.

AT&T issued an update early this evening in which it said "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 cyberattack. We are continuing our assessment of today’s outage to ensure we keep delivering the service that our customers deserve."

While AT&T's statement seems to dismiss the possibility that the outage was caused by a cyber attack, we wouldn't say that AT&T's dismissal of that possibility was a very strong statement. The FCC made its own statement Thursday afternoon and said, "We are aware of the reported wireless outages, and our Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau is actively investigating. We are in touch with AT&T and public safety authorities, including FirstNet, as well as other providers."

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The FBI said that it is in touch with AT&T and "Should we learn of any malicious activity we will respond accordingly," the G-men said. And White House National Security spokesman John Kirby also threw his 2 cents into the ring. As for the cause of the outage, Kirby stated, "The bottom line is we don’t have all the answers to that. And so we’re working very hard to see if we can get to the ground truth of exactly what happened."

An industry official told CNN that the problem had to do with the process known as "peering," or the way calls are handed off from one network to another. Still, there is quiet concern that a cyber attack was at the root of today's outage. It might be days before that can be absolutely and definitively ruled out by U.S. security officials.

The outage also took AT&T shares lower on Thursday with the stock dropping 41 cents or 2.41% to $16.59 even as the rest of the market was making new highs..

It was an unsettling start to the day and just shows how important a connected smartphone has become to our way of life.

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