T-Mobile hit with cell phone outage, voice and text down for thousands of users throughout U.S

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2020/06/15/t-mobile-att-and-verizon-hi.html


So of all the entities involved, only T-Mobile admits to having any issues? That’s… interesting.
(Or are the others playing word games? “We’re not having an outage” being a highly technical denial, in that they’re having massive problems that prevent people from using their service, but it’s not a total outage?)


In our own tests …, we found that making calls from a [cellular] phone would fail almost immediately after placing the call. We also found that the cell service on our phones was intermittent, with bars occasionally dropping to zero or losing access to high-speed data.

I’m sorry, what’s the news here? This describes my everyday experience with cellular networks since 1992, across a variety of phones and carriers.

Calls drop. All. The. Time. The number of bars displayed is arbitrary, literally changes with the direction of the wind, and gives no indication of whether you can successfully make a call. I lose just as many calls at 4 signal bars as I do at 1 signal bar.

I’ve never made a successful 911 (emergency services) call from a cell phone. Even if the call connects, the dispatcher has never received any location information and often doesn’t even get the number I’m calling from. Once, while trying to report a brush fire, the 911 operator kept asking where the fire was, so I kept giving more and more precise information (cross streets, landmarks, etc.). At last the operator screamed, “What city?!”


Took me 8 tries to make a call earlier on mint. I almost never use my phone, so naturally there was an outage when I did.

It’s all part of the plan, man. Keep watching the skies.

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Oddly, I only had marginal issues before noon yesterday but nothing big at least with internet access here in Minnesota. It was weird seeing reports of others having no access but here I was doing okay.

Wow, so it wasn’t just me. I was trying to make a call around 18:00 EDT yesterday and wasn’t able to get through. I noticed that my phone dropped to "4G " instead of “LTE” as soon as it started to dial, which is usually a sign that there’s a problem on the tower. After a couple of failed attempts I just did a Facetime call over the cell data and that worked fine.

If T-Mo is down some number of VZW customers will report their service as not working because they can’t call T-Mo customers. This is especially true of people with a small calling circle (say someone that only calls their kids or parents).

That is the perfectly benign “we aren’t having a problem” interpretation.

Also possible, any MVNO services that can switch between multiple carriers will switch off of T-Mo and swing extra usage onto AT&T, VZW, and Sprint. Maybe more then they have capacity for. I think this is unlikely because most MVNOs don’t really dynamically switch like this, most MVNOs only have a contract with one carrier per area they serve.

Also possible people with multiple phones (like one personal and one business?) switch away from the dead one to the working one. I think this would be uncommon though. (& if one phone is for the wife and one for the mistress I would expect they wouldn’t even try this?)

So I expect this is almost entirely “I can’t call my friend/spouse/whatever thus my phone carrier must be having the issue”.


Good thing we sold them that big chunk of spectrum…

in Atlanta, and for Metro PCS users (owned by TMobile), it was way worse than reported here. all apps lost service along with calls for like an hour. no browser, no email, no weather app, etc. I still had bars but the 4G LTE logo was gone. weirdly, text still worked. texted my neice who is on my family plan and lives next door, she had no issue. then everything came back for a half hour or so, then total blackout: no bars at all, no service at all.
so I got on my bike and headed to the PCS store. my buddy was in the street talking to two guys.
“hey, Noah, what’s going on?”
“ah, MetroPCS done cut off my phone.”
“yeah, us too, we’re headed to the store.”
I got there first and the employees were standing outside explaining they didn’t know what was happening, either.
my bro in Houston on my plan got a text through that his calls were cut off, but I couldn’t text back.
everything came back on a few hours later.

Living up to its ‘un-carrier’ slogan, T-Mobile US stops carrying incoming calls, data in nationwide outage

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