AT&T attributes wireline hardware failure as cause of spotty wireless coverage in Southeast market

AT&T (NYSE: T) said an issue with its wireline network was the culprit behind spotty wireless service coverage for it and a number of area wireless operators in its Southeast markets.

Joined by fellow wireless operators Sprint (NYSE: S), T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS), and Verizon Wireless (NYSE: VZ), the issue affected AT&T customers in parts of Alabama, Indiana, Kentucky, and Tennessee last night.

AT&T provides backhaul services for its own wireless network and other area providers. According to, there were nearly 11,000 outages reported for AT&T and 13,000 for Verizon.

However, AT&T did not confirm that it provided backhaul services to the other companies that experienced downtime from the hardware failure.

AT&T and Verizon Wireless both issued statements on Tuesday night, saying service was restored for all customers across the southeast U.S. after an outage that lasted around five hours.

Cathy Lewandowski, an AT&T spokeswoman said in a Tennessean article that the problem was caused by a "hardware-related network issue" and that its "engineers completed repairs and service is running normally."

Verizon issued a similar statement at 7:30 on Tuesday night that it had resumed service for their customers affected in Tennessee, mainly in Knoxville and Chattanooga.

"Verizon Wireless experienced interruption in service for some customers throughout Knoxville and Chattanooga today," Verizon said in a statement. "The outage lasted approximately five hours. Engineers were able to identify and resolve the issue and service was restored by 8:20 p.m. EST."

While AT&T is the main wireline provider in the region, Sprint and T-Mobile acknowledged that the outage was related to a wireless backhaul connection, but neither company named their provider.

T-Mobile issued a statement saying it was "in touch with the vendor regarding the source of the issue affecting customers." According to the Times Free Press newspaper in Tennessee, Sprint said the issue appeared to be caused by a local exchange provider, and that the company's network was working with the provider to restore service.

For more:
- Phone Scoop has this article
- WKRN has this article
- The Tennesseean has this article

Related articles:
AT&T Northern Calif. network damage comes under FBI investigation
CenturyLink traces San Juan Islands outage to severed submarine cable
Hargray cable service interrupted by power outage
Windstream's fiber cut in Kentucky interrupts consumer, business customers