T-Mobile experiencing widespread outage

The cellular carrier acknowledges problems affecting both its voice and data networks.

Ina Fried Former Staff writer, CNET News
During her years at CNET News, Ina Fried changed beats several times, changed genders once, and covered both of the Pirates of Silicon Valley.
Ina Fried
4 min read

A massive outage left many T-Mobile USA customers across the country unable to make calls or get data on their cellular phones on Tuesday.

In a statement, T-Mobile said it is working to get its service back up and running.

"T-Mobile customers may be experiencing service disruptions impacting voice and data," the company said in a statement. "Our rapid response teams have been mobilized to restore service as quickly as possible. We will provide updates as more information is available."

The move comes as the carrier is still working to restore data to T-Mobile Sidekick users, many of whom have been without some or all of their information for an entire month.

In a statement on Friday, T-Mobile said many of its Sidekick customers have been able to restore at least their contacts, although it acknowledged not everyone got their address books back.

"There was a very small group of customers for whom we were unable to recover any contacts," the carrier said. It is still working to bring back other data, including calendars, to-do lists, notes, pictures and other data. "We will share more details around this restoration process very soon," it said.

Microsoft, whose Danger service powers the Sidekick, initially thought all data might be lost, but later said it expected to be able to restore most, if not all user data.

Update 5:04 p.m. PT: In a slightly updated statement, T-Mobile said "Some T-Mobile customers may be experiencing intermittent service disruptions impacting voice and some data services."

Reports from users seem to vary. In San Francisco, I was unable to make or receive calls or get e-mail. Meanwhile, a few users in Boston and Washington, D.C. told me that their T-Mobile phones appeared to be working.

If other people want to drop me a note of where they are and what's working or not, I'll get a better sense of things.

5:20 p.m. PT: T-Mobile subscribers in eastern Tennessee, Honolulu, Long Island, N.Y. all e-mailed me to say they, too, were experiencing outages.

Gretchen Wuersching, an accountant who lives in Mount Vernon, N.Y. and works in Manhattan said she has been without service in New York City and Westchester County. Wuersching said she first noticed her service out in Manhattan and was still out in both Westchester County and later when she drove to the Bronx.

Meanwhile, a T-Mobile subscriber in Orange County, Calif. said service was intermittent, while another customer in Denver said her BlackBerry could make calls and handle e-mail, as could friends on T-Mobile's network there, but that text messages were not working.

Several people in the Salt Lake City area said they were having problems, while another in Utah said that calls and text messages were not working, but that Web and e-mail access was continuing.

All in all, it sounds like a very mixed bag for T-Mobile subscribers. Thanks to everyone who wrote in and I'll let you know when I hear more from T-Mobile.

Update 6:24 p.m. PT: T-Mobile issued an updated statement saying it now believes only 5 percent of customers are experiencing outages.

"We're making good progress restoring voice and messaging service to affected customers," a T-mobile representative said. "At this time, approximately 5 percent of T-Mobile customers are experiencing service disruptions. Issues began at approximately 5:30 p.m. Eastern time. Our rapid response team is working continuously to fully resolve this disruption. We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience that this has caused our customers."

The e-mails are literally flooding into my in-box from around the country and far more people are telling me they are experiencing outages of one variety or another than say they have full service. But perhaps that's the nature of who e-mails.

Among the dozens of e-mails of problems I have gotten was this message from Karen Jacobson, an analyst and programmer in North Carolina. "My daughter called me from Chicago to say that her text messaging doesn't work and asked me to call T-Mobile," Jacobson said. "I called them and was told that the network was busy. I then tried texting ... and was unable to text from down here. My friend Crystal called from Florida, on her landline, to tell me that her T-Mobile has not been able to make or accept phone calls for at least an hour (and now her boyfriend is angry cause he thinks she ignored him!)."

For my part, I have data access on my Blackberry Curve, but no ability to make calls. E-mail service, which was out for a time, seems to be back.

Update 10:50 p.m. PT: T-Mobile issued an updated statement saying it has restored voice and text/picture messaging services to customers who experienced outages and apologizing for the inconvenience.