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AT&T blames software update glitch for service outage — as photos of helpless workers go viral

The massive outage that knocked out cellphone service for tens of thousands of AT&T users for hours Thursday was likely caused by a glitch in a software update — as viral photos show helpless AT&T store workers being harassed by angry customers.

AT&T blamed the large-scale service disruption that impacted more than 70,000 users across the US and parts of Canada at its peak on an unspecified coding error and not on a cyberattack, as widely feared.

“Based on our initial review, we believe that today’s outage was caused by the application and execution of an incorrect process used as we were expanding our network,” the carrier said in a statement late Thursday.

They done walked AT&T down ? buddy just work there ? pic.twitter.com/IjAePm5KFj— JP (@lostfilesjp) February 22, 2024

The “incorrect process in question” reportedly related to a software update gone awry, according to preliminary information from two sources familiar with the matter who spoke to ABC News on condition of anonymity.

The outage that left customers unable to make calls or send text messages was not caused by a malicious external actor, one of the outlets sources said.

AT&T Outage Today Had This Employee In Florida Stressed Tf Out ?? pic.twitter.com/usNAS4ur3F— Raphouse TV (RHTV) (@raphousetv7) February 22, 2024

Some frustrated AT&T customers flocked to their local cellphone stores to vent their frustration about the outage, as seen in viral photos and videos circulating on X.

One post that has drawn more than 19 million views shows a visibly befuddled AT&T worker standing outside a store surrounded by a crowd of people.

“They done walked AT&T down,” the accompanying caption read. “Buddy just work there.”

Another post on X showed an AT&T employee in Florida being berated by a man over the service disruption.

“I can’t even get a text message or a phone call out,” the unhappy customer whines.

“But sir, what do you want me to do What the hell, man!” the fed-up store staffer replies, adding: “Sir, we’re having an outage! Do you know what an outage is?”

“I know what an outage is,” the man replies.

“So what the f–k do you want me to do?” the worker fires back. “I don’t know what the f–k to tell you. Y’all stressing me out. I already don’t get paid enough.”

AT&T, the nation’s largest cellphone carrier whose 5G network covers around 290 million users in the US, spent more than 10 hours on Thursday restoring its service,

Outage tracker Downdetector noted that outages, which began at about 3:30 a.m. peaked at around 73,000 reported incidents.

The service was restored by 2:15 p.m.

“We are taking steps to ensure our customers do not experience this again in the future,” AT&T said on its website.

The Federal Communications Commission said it was investigating the outage, while the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency said it was working with cellphone carrier to get to the bottom of what happened.

White House spokesman John Kirby said the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security were also looking into the outage.

“We are being told AT&T has no reason to think this was a cyber or security incident,” said Kirby. “But the bottom line is we don’t have all the answers.

With Post wires

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