As hard as T-Mobile may have tried to put the unfortunate events of June 15, 2020 behind it, naturally preferring its customers forgot all about that whole day they couldn’t make or receive voice calls and texts, the FCC pledged to thoroughly scrutinize one of the worst US cell phone outages in recent memory to give the people the answers they deserve.
Exactly how bad was the outage?
It can sometimes be easy to ignore or minimize the absolutely massive scale at which the top three wireless service providers in the US operate every single day, making this PSHSB report that much more fascinating (and scary).
After gathering data from many different sources, including T-Mobile itself, as well as Verizon, AT&T, and US Cellular, the FCC is in a position to share some truly astonishing stats, estimating that “at least” 41 percent of “all calls that attempted to use T-Mobile’s network” between 12:33 PM EDT on June 15 and 12:46 AM EDT on June 16 failed.
We’re talking both incoming and outgoing calls, mind you, and just in case that number doesn’t sound very “impressive”, allow us to point out that over 30 million calls from AT&T alone were blocked from delivery to T-Mobile during the outage, compared to roughly 200,000 such failed calls on an average Monday.
Add to that a difference of more than 18 million in the number of successfully completed calls from T-Mobile to AT&T between June 8 and 15, as well as over 12 million combined Verizon wireless and wireline calls dropped before reaching Magenta customers, and you’ll start to understand the magnitude of this catastrophic failure on the “Un-carrier’s” part.
Keep in mind that those counts obviously do not include failed calls between T-Mobile subscribers, similar problems experienced by users of other smaller operators (like US Cellular), texting glitches, or failed VoLTE and Voice over Wi-Fi call attempts, which unfortunately “could not be determined” for the purposes of this otherwise exhaustive review.
Some people lost money, some lost jobs, and others couldn’t get emergency care
Another thing that can be easy to overlook in this day and age is how much we’ve come to rely on mobile technology for not only entertainment, games, and social networking, but also business and emergency purposes.
Unfortunately and almost tragically, the FCC estimates “at least” 23,621 calls to 911 failed during T-Mobile’s nationwide June 15 outage. That’s certainly an anxiety-inducing number, but for what it’s worth, no public comments were received indicating any individual experienced physical harm “as a direct result of this outage.”
On the not so bright side of things, the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau did receive plenty of comments from people who incurred financial losses due to not being able to fulfill their regular job duties, failing to connect with business partners and clients, or arriving late to work as they were unable to use ride-sharing services as they would normally do.
In case you’re wondering, said ineptitude manifested itself on a number of different levels, starting with the equipment failure that initially brought T-Mobile’s network to its knees, continuing with a network routing misconfiguration that “exacerbated” the original problem, and culminating with a network software flaw that had been latent for months, magnifying the outage as it interfered with customers’ ability to initiate or receive voice calls during the aforementioned fateful 12 hours or so.
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