REGULATORY

FCC Chairman ‘Demanding Answers’ After T-Mobile US Outage

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By Sean Kinney

T-Mobile US customers experienced widespread voice and text outages that the carrier said were “resolved,” as of 10:03 p.m. PST yesterday. U.S. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai on Twitter yesterday wrote, “The T-Mobile network outage is unacceptable. The [FCC] is launching an investigation. We’re demanding answers–and so are American consumers.”

RCR Wireless News today followed up with the FCC to better understand the nature of the promised investigation. A spokesperson told us, “We don’t have further comment beyond the Chairman’s tweet.”

Downdetector, throughout the day on Monday, tracked outages on T-Mobile US, Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and other network and network-based services. Asked for more information on the reported outage, a Verizon spokesperson said their “network was not impacted.”

Specific to the outage reported by Downdetector, Verizon said the site uses “limited crowdsourced data drawn from sample social posts which are often statistically insignificant or factually incorrect. A lot of factors can contribute to a false report on a third-party website … a faulty device, network traffic that slows but doesn’t inhibit connections, commercial RF blockers, human error, network issues impacting other carriers and more. These types of sites do not evaluate and confirm the crowd-sourced data that they receive, they simply aggregate it and report it. The result can be faulty reports of network performance interruptions causing wide-spread miscommunication for wireless users.”

One school of thought it that a Verizon customer attempting to call a T-Mo line would not be able to connect; that could be perceived by the user and Downdetector as a problem with the Verizon network.

We reached out to Downdetector for a response to Verizon’s assessment and will update this story as additional information becomes available. According to the company’s website, “Downdetector collects status reports from a series of sources, including Twitter and reports submitted on our websites and mobile apps. Our system validates and analyzes these reports in real-time, allowing us to automatically detect outages and service disruptions in their very early stages.”

Editor’s note: Following the publication of this story, Downdetector’s VP of Marketing and Communications Adriane Blum said, “We don’t know if it’s that T-Mobile’s outage is now impacting other carrier experiences. We definitely saw far more reports on T-Mobile yesterday than we did on any of the other carriers.”

T-Mobile US President of Technology Neville Ray tweeted yesterday, “Thank you for your patience as we fixed the issues. We sincerely apologize for any and all inconveniences.”

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