Cricket, AT&T offer $5 Credit Per Line Compensation for Nationwide Cell Phone Outage:
Still No Explanation for Outage that began 2 PM Friday 5/27, to 7 AM Saturday 5/28
Update: Cricket Wireless has still offered no explanation for the nationwide cell phone outage that began 2 PM on Friday, May 27 and lasted until 7 a.m. PST on Saturday, May 28, 2016. However, they are offering a credit of $5 per line to each customer. You do have to call 611 from your phone and ask for it, and then wait on hold while some dude in Costa Rica processes the refund. That $5 per line, so in my case, it was $25.
It was an unprecedented national cell phone outage that began at 2 PM PST Friday and lasted for 17 hours. Subscribers of AT&T and Cricket Wireless were suddenly unable to use the internet, nor to make nor receive phone calls. People from San Diego to New York City, from Tampa to Tacoma, from Louisiana to South Dakota left us comments to say their cell service remained out, even as midnight came and Saturday dawned.
Update: Saturday 11 PM PST: Cricket sends the following text message to subscribers: "Cricket Wireless here thanking you for your patience while we resolved issues that may have affected some of your services Friday night. We apologize. We know you depend on your service and we failed to meet those expectations last night. We commit to working harder to keep you connected."
AT&T and Cricket Wireless customers were both affected, which makes sense since they share the same network. The outage seemed to be affecting outgoing calls as well as incoming. Verizon and T Mobile appear to be operating normally in most regions.
As Friday afternoon turned into evening and then night, affected readers could not access Uber, Lyft, Waze or banking apps, and could not call friends or relatives to drive them home from work. Modern life runs on smartphone apps, and in the words of Joni Mitchell, you don't know what you've got till it's gone. Businesses lost money, unable to receive calls from customers. Social events were missed, including weddings and funerals.
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The outage occurred around 2 PM in California, and the company first tweeted about it at 4 PM PST: "We are aware of a service issue affecting some customers & are working quickly to resolve it. We apologize for this inconvenience." Calling Cricket Wireless' customer service 1800 Cricket number, yielded only a fast busy signal.
Given the lack of information coming from the carriers, many are speculating wildly about what -- or who -- could cause such a wide scale, long lasting outage. The outage was barely mentioned in national media, which added to conspiracy theorizing.
Our Readers Tell Us
One of SMOBSERVED.COM's Colorado readers reports his Cricket cell phone service is out in Denver. Readers in Portland, Oregon, Vancouver, Washington and in Arkansas also report their Cricket Wireless is out. So the outage appears to be national. One reader in Chicago, IL reports no service for 2 hours. "Out here East of Dallas" a Texas reader posted. "I have data, but phone and text aren't working. 19:00CST"
In comments, our California readers reported service outages in Los Angeles, San Jose, Oakland, Sacramento, San Luis Obispo, Santa Rosa and San Diego. Readers across the United States told us of cell phone outages including Seattle, WA, Aurora, IN, Raleigh NC, Indianapolis, Albuquerque, Akron OH, Orlando FL, Nashville, TN, Pittsburg, PA, Atlanta, GA, Dallas, TX, Sedona, AZ; Dallas, Houston and San Antonio, TX; Las Vegas, St. Louis, Philadelphia, Chicago, New York City, and Washington D.C.
"I'm in Utah and Cricket phone service seems to be out across the State. I've been searching online and it pretty much looks like it's out across the country as well," writes one of our readers. "I'm in Wichita, KS and service seems to be out across the state. This is so exasperating!" writes Alyssa. "It would be nice to know why this is happening and more importantly, when/if its going to be fixed..."
"The same here in Arizona," wrote "Margedarlin" at 5:15 PM PST. "I went into a cricket store they say it's happening all over. I was told there is a tower down & it knocked the service out. I was told it would be back on by Saturday if not sooner."
A Texas reader also heard about the downed tower from his local store: "Outage here in San Antonio Texas too since about 4:30pm !! Called store was notified towers were done and they weren't sure when it was coming back up. Would be nice if they gave an approximate time. The fact that they don't know when is concerning. Were they hacked??!!"
Quiped Don Doolin: "In Omaha no service since 4:30pm. I guess if I want to hear a cricket I'll have to go outside. Come on Cricket get it together huh?" Other comments saw a lighter side to the story, too. "Maybe there will be a baby boom in 9 months. A 21st century blackout. Put down the phone people! Candy Crush and Instagram can wait till tomorrow. Life is happening if you just look away from your phone screen."
"In Santa Rosa, CA. Service Flickers out Around 3:10 PM PST. Service is unavailable currently despite this phone displaying 2-3 bars and the cricket service indicator in the top left corner. Still a busy signal at customer support. The time is 5:25. Thank you and good luck!"
Switchgod writes: "Having worked Network Operations for Cricket for 8 years before the AT&T M&A, this is an absolute embarrassment for AT&T. Incredibly, this is the only article I've been able to locate on the net regarding this outage. I'm currently in Morgantown. WV and my wife's Cricket service is out. When manually forcing the phone to search for the AT&T network, the error message Network not available pops up. Luckily I now work for another wireless carrier. AT&T SUCKS!!!"
Poignantly, one woman wrote: "I live in Michigan and no service. Really upset because my mom is in the hospital and ended up coding(dying) today and I couldn't call any family or friends for support. I've been sitting at the hospital alone trying to come to my senses. Very unhappy with the situation.....I'm so over today." An expectant grandmother in Chicago couldn't contact either of her two pregnant daughters.
Some readers say Verizon is also affected, but we have not been able to confirm this assertion. Apple suffered a serious outage of their online services such as iCloud and iTunes on Thursday, but there is no evidence indicating the Apple outage and the AT&T outage today are somehow connected.
Update 7AM PST Saturday from the Atlanta Journal Constitution: “Service has been fully restored for Cricket customers,” Ann Elsas, spokeswoman for Cricket Wireless parent company AT&T, said in a statement Saturday. “Technicians worked around the clock to resolve the issue and service is currently running normally. We apologize for this inconvenience.”
Update: Saturday 6:53 AM PST: #CricketNation tweeted, "Service has been fully restored. Technicians worked around the clock to resolve the issue. We sincerely apologize."
About Cricket Wireless
Cricket Wireless is a prepaid wireless service provider in the United States. Cricket Wireless offers voice, text, and data and is a wholly owned subsidiary of AT&T Inc. As of 2011, it provided prepaid wireless services to approximately 5 million subscribers in the United States.
Cricket Wireless was founded in 1999 by Leap Wireless International, Inc. On July 12, 2013, AT&T Inc. agreed to acquire Cricket's parent company Leap Wireless International for $1.2 billion. The merger was approved by the Federal Communications Commission on March 13, 2014, and later that same day, Leap Wireless announced the completion of its acquisition by AT&T.
Disclosure: The writer and his family pay for service through Cricket Wireless.