AT&T Suffers Nation-wide Network OutageAt approximately 4AM EST, AT&T's cellular network suffered a major outage; their data networks stopped working. Customers were left with no internet access from their mobile devices through either Edge or 3G. This was first thought to only affect iPhones due to an unforeseen bug with the 3.0 firmware which was released hours earlier, however reports came in of non-smartphone devices having the same troubles.
The image on the left is what iPhone customers saw when they awoke this morning. Notice the lack of a data badge (the little E or 3G symbol that should be next to the carrier badge, AT&T). Many iPhone users who also user the micro-messaging service Twitter began communicating their issues upon waking this morning. People from Pennsylvania, Florida, Wisconsin, and Illinois have all complained that their data service no longer worked.
Many of those same customers also placed AT&T support calls to report the problem. Though some people ran into AT&T representatives who blamed Apple for the problem, most were met with representatives who gathered information and attempted to resolve the issue.
At approximately 10:05AM EST, Western PA (Johnstown, Ebensburg, Cresson, etc.) had their 3G service restored. At that time, customers in Florida are still without 3G connectivity, however by disabling 3G they are able to connect to the Edge network. Around 11AM EST, AT&T confirmed the outage and that it affected all 3G devices, not just iPhones.
This couldn't have come at a worse time for AT&T as tomorrow is the release of the iPhone 3GS. They, however, appear to be working diligently to resolve the issue. Having a non-functioning data network for a major release would be yet another nail in the coffin for the exclusive carrier of the iPhone in the United States that will not support MMS or tethering come Friday.
Being that this outage occurred so close to the release of the new iPhone, some speculate that it was either a malicious act against AT&T from frustrated customers or a malicious act against Apple (through AT&T) to bring a black cloud over the big day of their new product. Only time (and proper investigations) will tell.