May 26, 2010

AT&T U-Verse Suffers Digital Phone Outage

AT&T's new digital home phone service failed around the country Tuesday, demonstrating ongoing reliability issues with Internet-based phone service.

Customers of AT&T's U-Verse Voice complained that their landline phones have had no dial tones since Tuesday morning. Customers say that those who are trying to reach them get a message that the line has been disconnected.

Customer support specialists with AT&T are telling customers that a server crash brought down the network in the company's entire 22-state local-phone service area.

Mari Meguizo, a spokeswoman for AT&T, told the Associated Press (AP) the outage started about 10:30 a.m., and most customers had their service restored by 2:45 p.m. She said the extent of the outage was unknown.

AT&T's U-Verse Voice has nearly 1.2 million customers. The service works in a similar fashion to independent phone services such as Vonage. The technology, known as Voice over Internet Protocol, has a blemished reliability record compared to standard phone services, though there has been some improvement. U-Verse Internet and TV services were not affected by Tuesday's outage.

Charles Tillman, a bank employee working from his home in Jupiter, Fla., told AP the outage was "infuriating."

"If you have a client calling and they get message saying it's a non-working number, they don't know it's a service outage," he said, adding that he was thankful for his cell phone.

Kimberly Dotseth, a real-estate broker in San Diego, was also upset that clients were unable to reach her. She told AP that she has been a U-Verse customer for only a month and now wants to switch back to a regular landline.

U-Verse Voice is only available in areas where AT&T has upgraded phone networks to support TV services over phone lines.


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