AT&T restores 911 wireless service after outage

The FCC will investigate the cause of the outage. Says its chairman, "Every call to 911 must go through."

Steven Musil Night Editor / News
Steven Musil is the night news editor at CNET News. He's been hooked on tech since learning BASIC in the late '70s. When not cleaning up after his daughter and son, Steven can be found pedaling around the San Francisco Bay Area. Before joining CNET in 2000, Steven spent 10 years at various Bay Area newspapers.
Expertise I have more than 30 years' experience in journalism in the heart of the Silicon Valley.
Roger Cheng Former Executive Editor / Head of News
Roger Cheng (he/him/his) was the executive editor in charge of CNET News, managing everything from daily breaking news to in-depth investigative packages. Prior to this, he was on the telecommunications beat and wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal for nearly a decade and got his start writing and laying out pages at a local paper in Southern California. He's a devoted Trojan alum and thinks sleep is the perfect -- if unattainable -- hobby for a parent.
Expertise Mobile, 5G, Big Tech, Social Media Credentials
  • SABEW Best in Business 2011 Award for Breaking News Coverage, Eddie Award in 2020 for 5G coverage, runner-up National Arts & Entertainment Journalism Award for culture analysis.
Steven Musil
Roger Cheng
2 min read

Some AT&T Wireless customers lost the ability to place 911 emergency calls.


AT&T said it has restored 911 service to customers who were unable to place emergency calls from their phones.

The outage hit some parts of Texas, Indiana and other states in the Midwest, law enforcement authorities and government agencies reported Wednesday.

"Service has been restored for wireless customers affected by an issue connecting to 911," said a company spokesman.

Service outages are increasingly painful to wireless carriers, which are facing competition from rivals shouting about the quality of their own networks. Along with price, the quality of service is one of the key factors for a customer when choosing their carrier.

AT&T declined to comment on how many customers were affected by the issue, and didn't specify the cause of the outage.

The Federal Communications Commission will investigate the outage. "Every call to 911 must go through," Chairman Ajit Pai said in a statement Thursday.

Authorities warned AT&T customers that they may not be able to call the emergency number directly and offered alternatives for reaching emergency services. Agencies in Fort Worth, Corpus Christi and Plano, Texas, tweeted alternative phone numbers for people to call in the event of an emergency.

Agencies in Tennessee and Washington DC sent similar tweets.

Originally published March 8 at 7:47 p.m. PT.
Updated March 9 at 7:39 a.m. PT: Added a response from AT&T and noted the FCC's plans to investigate.

Technically Literate: Original works of short fiction with unique perspectives on tech, exclusively on CNET.

Solving for XX: The industry seeks to overcome outdated ideas about "women in tech."