AT&T outage affects local law enforcement agencies


The majority of AT&T services have been restored after a bomb in a recreational vehicle exploded on Christmas in downtown Nashville and damaged an AT&T facility, leaving outages across north Alabama and causing issues for local law enforcement.

“Our mobility network is now operating normally; nearly all home internet and video customers have been restored and our business customers are back online,” AT&T Communications CEO Jeff McElfresh said Monday.

The company is waiving wireless data overages in 1,166 zip codes across Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, Georgia, Illinois and Missouri from Sunday to Thursday. Customers who were affected can also receive credits for their service charges, according to McElfresh.

Lawrence County Chief Deputy Tim Sandlin said the Sheriff’s Office experienced some cell service and data interruptions.

“It was inconvenient but not a significant issue,” Sandlin said. “We switched to different communication methods. We had redundancies built in with satellite communication capability and some Verizon service capability.”

The outage affected the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office’s FirstNet cell service to deputy phones, said public information officer Mike Swafford. “It also knocked our patrol unit’s data connection offline,” Swafford said. “Our radios still worked.”

FirstNet, built by AT&T, is exclusively for first responders including law enforcement, fire protection services and emergency 911 call dispatching.

The issues lasted about 30 hours, according to Swafford. “It all came back on around 11 p.m. Saturday,” he said.

McElfresh said that recovery work was to continue Monday as the company addresses the few remaining services and customers that still may be impacted.

“Twenty-three of our disaster recovery technology and support trailers arrived in Nashville” on Sunday, he said. “This equipment will be critical as we maintain service and make repairs in the days ahead.”

McElfresh said AT&T still had 11 portable cell sites running in the region to support customers and first responders.

“We have begun to turn down portable sites that are no longer needed given the recovery of service, but we will have resources standing by in the region as needed,” he said.

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