iPhone users stuck in SOS mode as AT&T outage disrupts cellular network: Resolved!

 IPhone showing SOS cellular signal warning.
IPhone showing SOS cellular signal warning.

Update (02/22/24): AT&T has confirmed that the ongoing service outage causing iPhone SOS messages has since been fully resolved. Check out our coverage for more information, including AT&T's initial findings for the cause of the outage.

Has your iPhone suddenly entered SOS mode? You're not alone! Reports from across U.S. social media this morning revealed that service providers like AT&T, Verizon, Cricket, T-Mobile, and more may currently be facing reports of service issues amid a national outage, triggering iPhones to enter into a no-service state.

AT&T outage: Quick links

"Why is my iPhone in SOS mode?"
"Who is affected?"
"How do I fix SOS on iPhone?"
"When will it be fixed?"
"What caused the AT&T outage?"
"What if I need help?"

However, those reports are seemingly stemming from confusion over an inability of Verizon, T-Mobile, Cricket, and other network users to communicate with AT&T customers, who appear to be the primary group suffering from connection issues at this time. Both T-Mobile and Verizon have confirmed that their networks are in working order, pointing to AT&T as the cause of confusion regarding service interruptions.

From what we know so far, AT&T's network had suffered a nationwide outage resulting in service disruptions from California to New York and almost everywhere in between.

AT&T has now confirmed that the ongoing outage is now resolved and customers should be returning to full service. While investigations continue, AT&T has provided us with an initial assumption as to what triggered the outage.

AT&T Outage: "Why is my iPhone in SOS mode?"

Seeing an SOS message is more often than not, never a good sign. Thousands of iPhone owners saw the SOS warning appear on their smartphones today leaving many of them confused or worried that something was going wrong, either with their device or at a wider level.

Thankfully, while the SOS warning sounds severe it doesn't mean that your phone is warning out about an impending fault, state of national emergency, or that you're in danger.

iPhone's SOS mode kicks in when your cellular connection has been severed, meaning you can only complete SOS calls or texts to emergency services. People owning an iPhone 13 and earlier Apple devices won't get the SOS indicator but will see a "No service" indicator, instead.

The SOS indicator had been in place since the early hours of the morning, with AT&T's cellular network having been inaccessible to customers across the United States. As per the latest update from AT&T, service has now been fully restored.

AT&T Outage: "Who is affected?"

While other outages might be occurring throughout the U.S., the majority of people being affected by today's service outages are AT&T customers. At first, many believed that today's service interruptions were also occurring on T-Mobile, Verizon, and Cricket platforms, with service status tracking website DownDetector registering large increases in reported faults across dozens of American cellular service providers.

However, in statements from earlier in the day, both Verizon and T-Mobile explained that their networks were currently not experiencing outages, with Verizon pointing out DownDetector's numbers were likely from when "customers experienced issues this morning when calling or texting with customers served by another carrier." In this instance, AT&T.

The outage appeared to have stretched from coast to coast, with reports hailing from a range of states including Wisconsin, Michigan, Texas, New York, and California.

Before normal service was resumed, outage tracker DownDetector, which sources its information from user-submitted tips about service issues, showed major hotspots in the following states:

  • Washington

  • Texas

  • Kansas

  • Georgia

  • Oklahoma

  • Illinois

Smaller hotspots appeared throughout the rest of the country, and, according to DownDetector.com, the following areas were reporting cellular issues on the AT&T network as of 02/22/24, 3:30 p.m.:

AT&T cellular disruptions in the U.S. by user reports from DownDetector.com
AT&T cellular disruptions in the U.S. by user reports from DownDetector.com

AT&T Outage: "How do I fix SOS on iPhone?"

Sadly, with a national outage like the one experienced today having occurred at the carrier level, there was little customers could personally do to fix things.

However, typically you may be able to resolve the issue by following the steps in our guide on SOS on iPhone: What it means and how to fix it. However, this is not a guaranteed solution.

AT&T Outage: "When will it be fixed?"

Update (02/22/24): The ongoing outage has been confirmed as resolved by AT&T.

AT&T is aware of the outage within its network and doing everything it can to fix it. According to a bulletin from the service provider at 11 a.m. ET, it claims "Our network teams took immediate action and so far three-quarters of our network has been restored."

DownDetector seems to back these claims, showing a considerable drop in user-supplied reports of faults for the AT&T network across the country.

Great news for those affected, but what of the remaining users who rely on its network? AT&T reassures its customers by adding "We are working as quickly as possible to restore service to remaining customers."

The fact AT&T have been able to restore all but a quarter of its coverage to customers is promising and suggests that a complete recovery from today's outage is imminent.

AT&T Outage: "What caused the AT&T outage?"

While internet theories were quick to spring up about possible cyber attacks and solar flares, there is currently no clear cause for the outage as of yet identified.

However, the FCC has revealed in a statement on X/Twitter that its Public Safety Bureau and the Homeland Security Bureau is in touch with AT&T and actively investigating the outage.

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) is also working alongside  AT&T to, as its Executive Assistant Director for Cybersecurity, Eric Goldstein, claims: "Understand the cause of the outage and its impact, and stand ready to offer any assistance needed."

Since service has been restored, AT&T has informed customers that it believes the outage was not a result of a cyber attack, but instead "the application & execution of an incorrect process used as we were expanding our network"

AT&T Outage: "What if I need help?"

Typically, when an iPhone displays the SOS indicator, users are still able to contact emergency services by phone or text. However, various reports suggest that the outage has affected large portions of customers from even this.

The San Francisco Fire Department informed the public that AT&T customers are struggling to make calls to 911 services. The SFFD, requests that people do not call or text 911 to test their ability to do so, however, it does recommend that AT&T users make use of a landline to call emergency services during the outage.

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