When some basic services suddenly go down without warning or immediate explanation during times of uncertainty, it’s no surprise that some will immediately panic or stir up conspiracy theories. When people across the US found themselves unable to make phone calls or send text messages, they were naturally unamused. Fortunately, the reason for that almost nationwide service outage was a single point of failure. Unfortunately, that single point of failure turned out to be T-Mobile who is now issuing a statement briefly explaining what happened.
Complaints about voice call and text messaging problems came from across the US and across all major carriers. On the surface, it seemed like an outage on AT&T, Verizon, and even Sprint. It turns out that it was only T-Mobile that actually had technical problems but customers from other carriers couldn’t call T-Mobile numbers, making them think their network was out, too.
T-Mobile admitted as much without actually referring to how it affected customers from its rival networks. It quickly announced it was on the job but also noted that data services were unaffected, allowing people to still connect via instant messaging service and video chats. By 10:03 pm PDT, all services were back to normal, according to the carrier’s report.
T-Mobile President of Technology Neville Ray now tries to explain the basic technical detail on what caused such a severe outage. He said that despite the company setting up redundancies, those redundancies failed when a leased fiber provider had circuit problems. This overloaded the system and created capacity problems on the core network that was used for making phone calls, specifically VoLTE or Voice over LTE calls.
Ray admits that they failed to meet their own bar for excellence and apologizes for the inconveniences the situation caused. Of course, this negative attention couldn’t have come at a worse time for the US carrier as it navigates the PR waters after its merger with Sprint, which now includes the reported layoffs of hundreds of Sprint employees.