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911 calls hampered during nationwide cellular outage

First responder agencies across the country had suggested residents use a landline to report an emergency during the outage

Cellular Outage

FILE - A man uses a cell phone in New Orleans on Aug. 11, 2019. A number of Americans are dealing with cellular outages on AT&T, Cricket Wireless, Verizon, T-Mobile and other service providers, according to data from Downdetector, Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024.

AP Photo/Jenny Kane, File

By Ryan Mancini

BOSTON — Wireless services for AT&T customers have been restored after a widespread outage was first reported in the early hours of Thursday.

The phone carrier announced at 3:10 p.m. that wireless service had been restored to all affected customers, according to a statement.

“We sincerely apologize to them,” the statement read. “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.”

Customers began reporting the outage to — a website that tracks service outages — around 3:30 a.m. , but reports began to spike around 4:30 a.m. Law enforcement and firefighters from all over the country have said people are having trouble contacting 911 because of the outages.

At 11:45 a.m., AT&T sent a statement saying it had restored service to three-fourths of customers affected by the outage.

Customers of many major carriers reported outages to the site, but later on Thursday morning, Verizon and T-Mobile said their networks were operating normally, and AT&T acknowledged that the outages were affecting their networks but did not say what caused the problem.

The phone carrier has not said what caused the outage.

Many police and fire departments across the country wrote on social media that the outages were hampering citizens’ ability to call 911. This may have led people to test whether they could reach 911 via their cell phone, as Massachusetts State Police soon warned people not to do this.

“Many 911 centers in the state are getting flooded w/ calls from people trying to see if 911 works from their cell phone. Please do not do this. If you can successfully place a non-emergency call to another number via your cell service then your 911 service will also work,” state police wrote on social media.

Local police departments suggested residents use a landline to report an emergency if they are an AT&T customer. Wi-Fi calling should still work, AT&T said in a statement.

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