AT&T outage: NY attorney general launches investigation

New York Attorney General Letitia James on Thursday opened an investigation into the nationwide outage that left AT&T customers without cell service for hours last week.

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James’ office will delve into what caused the outage and AT&T’s response.

“Americans rely on cell service providers for consistent and reliable service to help them with nearly every aspect of their daily lives,” she said in a news release. “Nationwide outages are not just an inconvenience, they can be dangerous, and it’s critical that we protect consumers when an outage occurs.”

Cell service went down for AT&T customers across the country on the morning of Feb. 22. Some were without service for as many as 12 hours. The outage also impacted people’s ability to call 911, local officials said.

The service disruption appeared to have stemmed from a tech issue and not a cyberattack, AT&T said last week.

“Our initial review of the cause of Thursday’s outage indicates it was due to the application and execution of an incorrect process used while working to expand our network,” AT&T CEO John Stankey said in a letter sent to employees on Feb. 25. “We are investing billions to grow our network and deliver an even more exceptional customer experience. This is both a point of pride and a challenge that always requires care and focus.”

The company announced it was giving affected customers a $5 credit on their accounts.

“We all know that our customers receive tremendous value and convenience for the nominal daily cost of our service, and outages sometimes have outsized impacts on some subscribers that may be greater than the face value of the credit,” Stankey said. “For that reason, I believe that crediting those customers for essentially a full day of service is the right thing to do.”

He noted that outages are part of “the reality of our business.”

“What matters most is how we react, adapt, and improve to deliver the service our customers need and expect,” he said. “While it is not unexpected to encounter challenges as we enhance and expand our network, we have processes and redundancies in place for a reason. We owe it to our customers and ourselves to do better, and I know that each and every one of you is committed to that goal.”

The Federal Communications Commission is also investigating the outage, Reuters reported.

AT&T did not immediately comment on James’ investigation.