Cherokee County

AT&T service restored after outage, Atlanta area customers frustrated even with phones working again

WOODSTOCK, Ga. — After a national outage of AT&T phone service on Thursday, the network is back up and running.

However, Atlanta customers speaking with Channel 2′s Tom Regan said they were frustrated by the at-times panic-inducing outage.

The issues started just before 4 a.m., when users started getting SOS messages on their phones.

“It just says SOS...and there’s no internet connection,” AT&T customer Aaron Capistran told Regan. He’s in Georgia on vacation from Alaska, and said it wasn’t a good time for his girlfriend’s phone to go on the fritz. He said the store didn’t have an explanation when he arrived.

Later on Thursday afternoon, AT&T confirmed they’d restored wireless service to their networks.

[DOWNLOAD: Free WSB-TV News app for alerts as news breaks]

Talking to Channel 2 Action News, customers at a Woodstock AT&T store said they were “in a panic” after waking up with a phone that wasn’t working, calling it a major inconvenience.

During the outage, customers were lined up at stores trying to get help, asking why they weren’t able to get calls or texts to go through or get online without Wi-Fi.

Customers told Regan that they rushed to AT&T stores looking for answers.

“I came here to check with AT&T and was told it was affecting everybody,” Brian Samba, an AT&T customer, told Regan.


In some ways, the outage did affect everyone, but Channel 2 Action News previously learned that other networks like Verizon and T-Mobile weren’t impacted.

Instead, customers could contact friends, family or others with different networks, but couldn’t make phone calls or send messages, while messages to AT&T customers bounced back an SOS response.

“Verizon’s network is operating normally. Some customers experienced issues when calling or texting with customers served by another carrier. We are continuing to monitor the situation,” AT&T competitor Verizon said in a statement.

At one point, more than 70,000 customers reportedly were affected by the network outage.

While AT&T didn’t specify the cause, some computer specialists like Georgia Tech’s Ahmed Saeed, told Channel 2 Action News it likely involved a glitch in their peer-to-peer network linkage, between AT&T and other network providers.

“When there is an outage like this, it’s more likely that there’s something that went wrong with these conversations,” Saeed, an assistant professor of Computer Science at the Georgia Institute of Technology, said. “When you make a software update, that affects all hardware and can potentially affect your whole network.”

While the service has been restored, customers told Regan that the outage, even if temporary, had a big impact.

[SIGN UP: WSB-TV Daily Headlines Newsletter]

“It’s impacted me a whole lot ‘cause I have to do business with my phone, so I’m literally stuck in the house on Wi-Fi,” Harold Cochran, another AT&T customer said.

For Samba, it was like he was stuck. To a lot of people, phones are like a mobile office.

“It’s like everything is on the phone. I couldn’t access my bank, I couldn’t do anything,” Samba said.

Cyber investigators said there’s no evidence to suggest the outage was caused by malicious cyber activity.