UPDATE: Phone service restored after AT&T fiber line cut, 911 phone calls affected
UPDATE: Landline customers across Tennessee ran into a major headache Monday morning. An AT&T fiber cut in Shelbyville took down landline connections for hours.
Hamilton County Emergency Communications District Executive Director John Stuermer says the problem was noticeable right off the bat.
"When traffic starts picking up and business starts moving, right about 6:30,” he said “From then on it was very obvious the number of calls was down tremendously."
Stuermer worked to get the word out to customers. He says the main problem was landline to landline connections. They encouraged people to use their cell phones in case of emergency.
"We were able to get cellular calls and our cellular calls are about 80% of calls anyway, so that was huge for us,” Stuermer said.
The cut didn't just impact AT&T customers. EPB spokesperson J.Ed. Marston says their callers were impacted if they took calls outside of the EPB network.
"We learned that landline customers who are calling other landline customers within the service area are not affected,” he said. “But traffic that is coming from outside of our service area or bound outside of our service area is being impacted."
EPB re-routed lines to make sure customers could still call 9-1-1. Throughout the morning, Marston says EPB’s main goal was keeping people in touch.
“Our primary focus is really on our customers and doing as much as we can to minimize this problem for our customers,” Marston said.
Service was restored around 12:30 Monday afternoon. In a statement to Channel 3, AT&T says the cut was caused by another company.
AT&T sent an updated statement to Channel 3, which reads: "Service has been restored for customers in parts of the Tennessee area who may have been affected by a fiber cut caused by another company earlier today. We worked as quickly as possible to repair the damage and apologize for any inconvenience this caused."
PREVIOUS STORY: EPB spokesperson J.Ed. Marston says the landline issue impacting people around the Tennessee Valley may be resolved.
EPB has completed several successful test calls using landlines. However, they haven’t received official confirmation from AT&T that the problem is fixed.
Marston says the issue came from a cut AT&T fiber line in Shelbyville, and it impacted other providers and utilities. EPB customers making calls within the service area aren’t affected. If people make calls that go outside the service area, they may not go through.
EPB’s top priority this morning was rerouting their system so that 911 calls could be made, which they did earlier this morning.
The problems was not limited just to Hamilton County; other parts of the Channel 3 viewing area had problems as well.
AT&T released a statement to Channel 3 shortly after 11:00am Monday with the following statement:
"Some customers may be affected by fiber damage in the Shelbyville, Tullahoma and Chattanooga areas. We are working as quickly as possible to fix this and apologize for the inconvenience."
PREVIOUS STORY: People in parts of the Tennessee Valley may be experiencing phone issues including landline calls to 911.
J. Ed Marston with EPB tells Channel 3 that an AT&T line that services EPB and other utilities was cut.
Marston explained in an email: "AT&T is reporting a fiber cut between Shelbyville and Tullahoma that is creating widespread phone outages across Tennessee and elsewhere. EPB phone customers are still able to call within our service area, and we have re-routed call traffic around the problem as much as possible to reduce the impact for Fi Phone customers. We have also taken steps to ensure that 911 calls will work for EPB land-line customers. AT&T is not reporting an estimated time of repair at this time, but we are monitoring the situation closely. If customers have questions or experience other problems, please go to EPB.com and contact us by web chat."
This is impacting customers with other carriers as well - not just EPB.
EPB customers have been re-routed around the problem so that they can call 911, and they have made sure 911 can re-route their calls as well.
Hamilton County 911 cannot receive calls landline-based calls, but cellular calls are working.
Other affected areas include:
- Walker County ( use temporary numbers 423-443-6345, 423-443-6543, 423-443-7377, 423-443-7825)
- Catoosa County Emergency 911
- Meigs County Emergency 911 IS working, but administrative numbers are not.
- Hamilton County Schools Transportation (423)498-5555 is not working, but the other telephone numbers are.
- Fort Oglethorpe 706-406-4070 for emergency use only (this is a temporary number)
If you need to report an emergency to 911, use your cellular phone.
“At this point we are trying to determine the scope and impact of the outage, but it appears to be very large and wide spread. We have received a report that Knox County is being impacted as well,” said John Stuermer, Executive Director for Hamilton County Emergency Communications District. “Anyone needing emergency services should use their cellular devices to call E911 until advised otherwise.”
There is no timeline right now on when it will be fixed.
NBC affiliate WBIR reports that other parts of east Tennessee are also affected, such as areas of Knoxville, Kingston and Hamblen County. Anderson County also appears to be affected.