UPDATE: As of 4 pm EST, most of the problems experienced by AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint customers across states as diverse as North Carolina, Illinois, New York, and Virginia appear to have been resolved. Of the three mobile network operators, Sprint acknowledged the outage on Twitter, highlighting service issues had impacted "customers in the Carolinas" on "multiple carriers."
Things are still pretty bad on Verizon primarily for folks across North and South Carolina, and making matters worse, Big Red refuses to admit the problems are widespread, replying individually to disgruntled customers on Twitter with variations on a statement blaming Charter Communications for the outage. Apparently, Charter "made a change to its network which impacted a number" of Verizon's cell sites, "working quickly" as we speak to "fix this issue."
Of course, Charter is not going to be blamed by all the people affected by the issue, who really don't care Verizon uses its "fiber lines to carry information between its cell sites and the core network in your area." In other words, maybe a simple apology would have worked better than this technical explanation unlikely to appease many people. The original story follows below.
We could argue all weekend long which of America's big four wireless service providers offers the best download speeds (on either 4G LTE or "true" 5G), the most reliable signal, or the lowest network latency, especially as different reports often yield different winners, but when it comes to outages, the nation's major mobile carriers are sometimes impacted in an equal manner.
It happened several months ago, and according to a flurry of new complaints this morning, it's going down yet again across Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint's networks nationwide. We mean that in a pretty literal sense, mind you, as a lot of things seem to be down in a lot of places at the time of this writing.
Thousands of reports of Verizon problems, for instance, were collected by the folks over at Downdetector between roughly 9:30 am and 1:30 pm Eastern Time, and even though the number of complaints did decline a little as the hours went by, the issues are certainly not over. Most of them are related to basic mobile phone use, aka the making and receiving of voice calls, but mobile internet use is pretty widely affected too and there's even a small fraction of Verizon customers reporting "total blackouts."
The outages appear to be a tad less extreme on AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint, but Downdetector did also register a few hundred issues reported in the early hours of January 31 on each of the three mobile network operators. While phone use leads Sprint's outage chart, the most frequent problems encountered on AT&T and T-Mobile today are with mobile internet connections.
Smaller carriers are also not without fault right now, with various problems reported by US Cellular and Straight Talk customers among others. Curiously enough, the T-Mobile-owned Metro prepaid brand seems largely unaffected by these mysterious and oddly widespread outages, while services like Disney+ are also down for many users, although it's not clear just yet if the issues are connected in any way.
We'll be sure to continue keeping an eye on things as the weekend draws near, and hopefully, all the glitches will be resolved in time to get back to arguing what carrier delivers a microscopic advantage in download speeds and where.