Police departments and other officials blamed AT&T Inc. for a 911 outage last night that prevented some people from contacting emergency responders for several hours, the Wall Street Journal reports. Washington, D.C., police said AT&T suffered a nationwide 911 outage for cellphone callers and asked residents to try a local number to report emergencies. Police in Alexandria, Va., posted a similar message on Twitter, as did officials from Florida and Texas. At 10:30 p.m. Eastern Time, AT&T said its service had been restored. “We apologize to those who were affected,” the company tweeted. It didn’t say what caused the problem or how many people were affected.
AT&T has more than 90 million consumer wireless subscribers. The outage didn’t appear to affect customers of Sprint Corp., T-Mobile US Inc., or Verizon Communications. “We are working closely with government and industry partners to understand the scope and causes of this outage,” said the National Emergency Number Association. The emergency-response system fields an average of 240 million calls a year. It includes 6,500 separate answering centers run by local authorities with various technologies. Not all centers can receive text messages, and few can consistently pinpoint the precise location of wireless callers.