AT&T service restored after outage affected southeastern NC

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – A cell service outage was affecting southeastern North Carolina customers Thursday morning, Feb. 22, according to a notification from AT&T.

On Thursday at 3:10 p.m., an AT&T spokesperson said that wireless service has been restored to all affected customers.

“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,” the spokesperson said.

Later in the evening, the company released a statement about the outage:

“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 cyber attack. We are continuing our assessment of today’s outage to ensure we keep delivering the service that our customers deserve.”

The original alert from AT&T stated:

“Valued Customer, This is an AT&T FCC PSAP Notification informing you of a Wireless and FirstNet outage. Customers cannot make or receive voice and data calls to and from mobile, including 911 calls. The preliminary cause is outside AT&T Network.”

According to Downdetector.com, outages were also reported for Cricket Wireless, Verizon, T-Mobile, UScellular, Boost Mobile, Straight Talk and Consumer Cellular customers.

WECT called dispatchers in Pender, New Hanover, Columbus, Brunswick and Bladen counties, which reported that its services were operational but were aware of the issue residents are having trouble reaching 911.

“We have received some calls from AT&T customers that have come through flawlessly and we’ve been able to serve them,” said New Hanover County 911 Director Hope Downs. “However, we have had some that have hit our system, we know somebody’s tried calling, but we haven’t been able to connect to them.”

Downs says if a similar outage happens again, it is important for you to be prepared.

“It’s always good to have a backup communication plan,” said Downs. “This is a perfect example. People day to day don’t think about the important of it until they need to reach 911, and then they’re kind of stuck or trying to find last-minute alternatives to be able to reach emergency services.”

As far as what those alternative options are, Downs says you could rely on internet rather than cell coverage.

“Backup communications plans that can be used in the meantime is you can text to 911. If you have connection to WiFi, you should still be able to call using WiFi calling. In addition, find an alternate carrier from somebody nearby or use a landline phone to be able to reach us if needed,” said Downs.

Just before 8 a.m., AT&T released the following message to WECT:

“We are aware of an outage currently impacting our Mobility users and are working to resolve it ASAP. For the latest info please visit our Service Outage information page. We apologize for this inconvenience.”

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