AT&T reports widespread cell phone outages

POWER OUTAGE: Spokeswoman says exact cause isn't yet known.

December 16, 2009 

AT&T's cell phone network went down about midday Wednesday and left customers across the state without service for much of the day.

Voice and text services for many Alaska customers had not been restored as of 9 p.m., though customers with the newer 3G service from AT&T reported that their cell phones still worked.

It was not known specifically why service went out or even when it would be restored. AT&T officials in Alaska would not comment on the situation, instead directing questions to a public relations firm in California. A local AT&T spokeswoman said the company's wireless business in Alaska is managed Outside.

"A commercial power outage caused a hardware issue that is affecting 2G service in parts of Alaska," said Colleen Smith with public-relations firm Fleishman-Hillard in San Francisco, which handles PR for AT&T. "It is unknown whether this was due to the weather conditions. AT&T technicians are currently working to resolve the issue. We apologize for any inconvenience to our customers. We will provide more information as it becomes available."

In an e-mail exchange about 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Smith said service had been restored in some areas, but crews were still working to resolve problems elsewhere. She said she did not know where service had been restored, when service would be restored elsewhere and what the cause of the outage was.

Some customers of other providers may also be affected by AT&T's outage.

"ACS hasn't experienced any outages," said Heather Cavanaugh, director of corporate communications. "We have been told that AT&T has, and so what our customers are experiencing is when they try to call an AT&T customer they're unable to connect."

David Morris, the public affairs manager of GCI, said though his company has its own network, cellular providers sometimes run their traffic through other networks.

"Some of our traffic does route through there so that could easily affect GCI customers, as well as AT&T and possibly even ACS," Morris said.

The commercial power outages around Anchorage on Wednesday did not affect GCI's network, he said.

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