AT&T outage: Company says network is fully restored after thousands reported losing cell service

A cause for the outages has not been cited, but there is "no reason" to think it was a result of a cyberattack, the company said.

The AT&T logo
Pau Barrena/AFP via Getty Images

AT&T said on Thursday afternoon that its service has been fully restored after a nationwide cellphone outage hit tens of thousands of its customers earlier in the day.

"We have restored wireless service to all our affected customers," the company said in a statement. "We sincerely apologize to them. 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.

AT&T, the nation’s largest carrier, has more than 240 million subscribers.

More than 70,000 outages were reported after 8 a.m. ET, according to Downdetector, a website that detects outages. The first outages were reported just before 4 a.m.

No reason has been given for the outages. ABC News reported that U.S. federal agencies including the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security are investigating to determine whether they were the result of a cyberattack. But National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said on Thursday afternoon that AT&T informed the White House that there is "no reason" to think the outage was a cybersecurity incident.

🆘 Phones switched to SOS mode

iPhone icons
Many users were reporting that their iPhones were in SOS mode on Thursday morning. (Photo illustration: Yahoo News)

Scores of AT&T users reported their phones were switched to SOS mode. For Apple iPhones, SOS mode appears when your device isn't connected to a cellular network. But you can still make emergency calls. The feature is available in the United States, Canada and Australia.

Earlier on Thursday, AT&T was encouraging its customers to use Wi-Fi calling until service was restored.

📲 How to turn on Wi-Fi calling

Here (via USA Today) is how to do it on both iPhone and Android devices:

Wi-Fi calling for iPhones:

  • Tap Settings

  • Tap Phone

  • Toggle Wi-Fi calling

Wi-Fi calling for Android devices:

  • Open your phone app

  • Tap More

  • Tap Settings

  • Tap Calls

  • Tap Wi-Fi calling

➡️ What other cellphone customers were inconvenienced?

Cricket Wireless had more than 13,000 outages, according to Downdetector. Verizon had more than 4,000 outages; T-Mobile had more than 1,900 outages; and Boost Mobile had about 700 outages.

But both Verizon and T-Mobile said that its networks were operating normally and that the outages listed on Downdetector were likely a result of their customers calling or texting with AT&T subscribers.

“Our network is operating normally,” T-Mobile said in a statement to the Associated Press. “Down Detector is likely reflecting challenges our customers were having attempting to connect to users on other networks.”

🚑 Emergency services affected

In San Francisco, the outage was hindering people’s ability to reach emergency services, according to a post on X by the city's fire department.

“We are aware of an issue impacting AT&T wireless customers from making and receiving any phone calls (including to 911),” the San Francisco Fire Department said. “We are actively engaged and monitoring this.

“The San Francisco 911 center is still operational,” it added. “If you are an AT&T customer and cannot get through to 911, then please try calling from a landline. If that is not an option then please try to get ahold of a friend or family member who is a customer of a different carrier and ask them to call 911 on your behalf. Do not call or text 911 to simply test your phone service.”

The Massachusetts State Police said 911 call centers across the state had been flooded with calls from people checking to see if the emergency service worked from their phones.

“Please do not do this,” the state police said. “If you can successfully place a non-emergency call to another number via your cell service then your 911 service will also work.”