T-Mobile might get in trouble with the FCC over huge network outage

T-Mobile might get in trouble with the FCC over huge network outage
June 15 was purportedly supposed to go down in "New T-Mobile's" history as the first big step towards the full transition of more than 50 million Sprint customers, but while Magenta never confirmed last week's report calling for the imminent start of the company's second wave of major coverage upgrades, something brought the rapidly expanding network to its knees on Monday.

Although CEO Mike Sievert was quick to blame the nationwide outage on an innocent-sounding "IP traffic related issue" creating "significant capacity issues in the network core throughout the day", this somewhat vague and general explanation is seemingly not enough to satisfy FCC Chairman Ajit Pai.

T-Mobile will be under scrutiny 

Without going into many details, Pai vowed on Twitter on Monday evening to "launch an investigation", calling the T-Mobile network outage "unacceptable" and essentially demanding more specific and complete answers in the name of both the Federal Communications Commission and "American consumers." 

It's not yet clear if the FCC expects anything in particular to come to light during this investigation or even exactly how said probe will be conducted and on what it might focus, but the timing of T-Mo's widespread service disruption certainly suggests this was somehow connected with its Sprint integration efforts.


These have been going on for a while now after the merger between the two carriers was finalized on April 1, but if the gradual migration of around one million Sprint subscribers indeed led to the great blackout of June 15, the FCC is right to ask questions about what will happen next.

After all, there are many more customers that will need to be transferred in the coming months, which could further amplify the "significant capacity issues" cited by Sievert. "American consumers" definitely have a right to know if T-Mobile's network can handle this extra pressure, although we can't help but think back to all the accusations against the FCC and DOJ.

A number of state AGs and industry pundits repeatedly claimed the T-Mobile/Sprint merger was not sufficiently scrutinized, and while it's obviously never too late to hold the two companies accountable for their technical errors, it is certainly too late to block the mega deal.

No signs of DDoS attacks

Of course, there are various other things that could have gone wrong, potentially explaining the outage, but after rampant social media speculation on Monday, the DDoS attack theory doesn't seem to hold water. 

This initially suggested T-Mobile was far from the only victim of a massive international cyber-attack aiming to flood multiple carriers and social networks with traffic, but both Verizon and AT&T adamantly rejected the rumors (via Fox Business), highlighting their wireless services operated normally on June 15, with no sign of widespread trouble whatsoever.

It's also worth pointing out that no T-Mobile officials supported the DDoS (distributed denial-of-service) gossip in any way, with the "Un-carrier's" Help-dedicated Twitter handle labeling the outage as a "widespread routing issue" right off the bat. This basically killed voice and text services for a large number of customers "in markets across the US" between roughly 9 am and 10 pm Pacific Time while leaving third-party apps like FaceTime, iMessage, Google Duo, Zoom, Skype, and Signal functional.

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Ultimately, T-Mo President of Technology Neville Ray confirmed on Twitter all services were restored after midnight ET, "sincerely apologizing for any and all inconveniences." That's all well and good, but it remains to be seen if the FCC will see fit to penalize Magenta in any way for this "unacceptable" crash.

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