Blast in Nashville leads to shutdown of AT&T's wireless service in several cities and states

Blast in Nashville leads to shutdown of AT&T's wireless service in several cities and states
AT&T's cellular customers in the Nashville, Tennessee area had to put up with outages on Christmas Day and beyond. The problem was the explosion of an RV that was parked near an AT&T transmission building on Friday morning. According to CNN, the blast damaged a network hub. When a network hub is damaged, some of the internet traffic can be rerouted but not all of it. As a result, AT&T customers across Nashville and other parts of neighboring cities and states lost part of their wireless service.

RV explosion in Nashville on Christmas leads to outages for AT&T customers

AT&T spokesman Jim Greer said in a statement hours after the explosion," Service for some customers in Nashville and the surrounding areas may be affected by damage to our facilities from the explosion this morning. We are in contact with law enforcement and working as quickly and safely as possible to restore service,"We continue to work to restore service for customers in Nashville and the surrounding areas who were affected by this morning's explosion. We have mobilized additional resources including our National Disaster Recovery team and are bringing in multiple portable cell sites to assist in the recovery efforts."

Network hubs rely on power sourced from batteries and generators. The damage created by the explosion seems to have caused AT&T service to stop working at the airport and throughout other areas of the state and nearby regions. To keep cell service operating for law enforcement, and to improve wireless service in general, AT&T sent portable cell towers to Nashville. Besides the disruption in consumer based cellular communications, the blast disrupted communications related to aircraft operations at Nashville International Airport. The FAA decided to shut down air travel for about one hour. In a statement, the FAA said that, "Pilots never lost touch with air traffic control."

Reports published late Friday said that the outages affecting AT&T customers in Nashville and the central parts of Tennessee were still creating havoc well into Friday night. The  region's 9-1-1 emergency calling system was impacted by the outage and on social media users shared landline phone numbers or alternate numbers that could be used instead of the non-working 9-1-1. Later on Friday, Smyrna Police sent out a tweet that said, "911 has been re-established, but your name and location may not be seen by dispatchers. "Please give your name and location to dispatchers immediately."

Friday afternoon, AT&T stated publicly that it was "bringing disaster recovery efforts into the Nashville area in response to the explosion." The carrier admitted that the explosion damaged its facilities. In another statement, the carrier noted, "Power is essential to restoring wireless and wireline communications, and we are working with law enforcement to get access to our equipment and make needed repair. There are serious logistical challenges to working in a disaster area and we will make measurable progress in the hours and days ahead."

AT&T could continue to have operational issues in the near future. According to, outages were still taking place at 12:30 am ET in markets including Nashville, Chaatanooga, Atlanta, Clarksville, Madison, Huntsville, Murfreesboro, Knoxville, and Lexington. An AT&T spokesperson said, "We're grateful for the work of law enforcement as they investigate this event while enabling us to restore service for our customers."

Comcast reminded AT&T subscribers affected by the outage that its Xfinity hotspots can be use by anyone free of charge. You can follow these rules to use the Xfinity hotspots: "Once in range of a hotspot, select the "xfinitywifi" network name in the list of available hotspots and then launch a browser.

Xfinity internet customers can sign in with their usernames and passwords, and they will be automatically connected to Xfinity WiFi hotspots in the future. Non-Xfinity internet subscribers should visit the "Not an Xfinity Internet Customer" section on the sign-in page to get started. Non-customers can renew their free sessions every two hours."
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