Owners of AT&T cellphones experienced some problems on Wednesday night that could have put some lives in danger. Some wireless customers from certain states reported that they were unable to call 911 and report emergencies.
The problem was first reported in North Texas around 9 p.m. After that, police departments all over the country informed people that they could call other numbers or text 911 instead. For instance, the D.C. Police Department tweeted a different number that residents could use or emergencies and informed them that they could also text 911.
Karima Holmes, the director of the city’s Office of Unified Communications, confirmed that there was indeed a problem with AT&T cellphones and emergency numbers and advised the people to pay attention to the instructions given by the police departments.
Also, other officials from Indiana, Alabama, Tennessee, Texas, Florida, Oregon, and Colorado revealed other numbers to call in an emergency or advised them to send a text. The Denver Police Department tweeted that locals should text their location first and then specify if they need the police, ambulance, or the fire department.
AT&T made a public statement about the issue. They said that the problems were caused by a service issue which affected only wireless calls to 911, while users could make other calls without problem. They apologized for the inconveniences and declared that they were working on the issue and would try to solve it as quickly as possible.
In spite of AT&T’s declarations, users were quite outraged and did not hesitate in blaming the phone company. They found it unacceptable that they were not able to call 911 and that many lives were in danger.
Users thought that AT&T should have offered something more than an apology, since their issue was quite big and could have had terrible consequences.
There were all kinds of reactions on Twitter, including one user that admitted he was glad he switched to a rival cellphone company, Verizon. This brought a surprising response from Verizon, which welcomed the new customer to their wireless network and offered assistance when needed.
Some regarded the gesture as “savage”, while others thought it was a display of bad taste. They though that, despite the rivalry, competing cellphone companies should not act like this when such serious issues are involved.
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