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Could a solar flare be behind the AT&T nationwide network outage?

solar flare AT&T outage
Source: Pixabay

Two solar flares from the sun erupted as widespread cellphone outages were reported throughout the US on Thursday, reported.

Solar flare AT&T outage’s impact on local government services and first responder networks

Across the United States, widespread cellular service disruptions were reported on Thursday morning after the solar flares. The Associated Press stated that major cellular providers like AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile reported tens of thousands of outages.

The outage caused customers to lose the ability to make calls, send texts, or use the internet. However, by late morning, the majority of the network had been restored, CNN reported.

AT&T outages affected local government services, disrupting 911 calls in cities like San Francisco and New York. Several municipalities advised using alternative methods for emergencies, with some fire departments affected by alarm disruptions. AT&T’s FirstNet network for first responders remained operational, distinguishing itself as a more resilient option during such outages.

On the evening of Wednesday, February 21, and the early morning of Thursday, February 22, the sun unleashed two twin powerful solar flares, reported. The first, an X1.8-class flare, occurred at 6:07 p.m. ET on February 21, followed by another, an X1.7-class flare, at 1:32 a.m. ET on February 22. These flares originated from a sun region described by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) as having “strong magnetic complexity.”

Potential link between solar flares and AT&T service disruptions

While it’s uncertain if the two occurrences are connected, reports of service interruptions seemed to coincide with the timing of the solar flares.

As reported by, a significant solar flare disrupted AT&T service on August 4, 1972, causing long-distance phone communication to be disrupted across multiple states. “That event, in fact, caused AT&T to redesign its power system for transatlantic cables,” wrote, according to a NASA description of the event.


The impact of these flares could persist for several days, according to In a forecast discussion released at 7:30 a.m. ET on Thursday, February 22, NOAA noted the observation of an “eruptive filament” exploding from the northwest section of the sun’s visible surface on February 21.

AT&T provided a statement regarding Thursday’s extensive outage. “Some of our customers are experiencing wireless service interruptions this morning. We are working urgently to restore service to them. We encourage the use of Wi-Fi calling until service is restored.”

In the past few days, AT&T has faced sporadic outages, including a temporary 911 disruption in some parts of the southeastern United States. While outages occur occasionally, widespread and prolonged ones nationwide are extremely uncommon, CNN reported.

Solar flare unlikely cause of AT&T outages, expert suggests

Ryan French from the National Solar Observatory posted on X that the solar flare and the AT&T network problem are probably not connected.

“Some people are attributing cell network outages (AT&T, Verizon) in the U.S to last night’s X-class #SolarFlare,” he said. “However, flares only cause radio degradation on the *dayside* of the Earth. As you can see below, the U.S was not affected by the event. So it’s just a coincidence!”

Although AT&T hasn’t officially stated the cause of the outage, an industry insider, speaking anonymously, suggests it may be linked to the process of call handoff between cellular networks, known as peering.

The insider assures there’s no evidence to suggest that Thursday’s outage resulted from a cyberattack or any malicious activity. Verizon spokesperson Richard Young has stated that the nationwide outage affecting AT&T customers is nearly resolved.

The outage problems were first flagged on Downdetector just before 4 a.m. And numerous customers are still reporting ongoing service disruptions, Fox 29 reported.

About the author

Brendan Taylor

Brendan Taylor was a TV news producer for 5 and a half years. He is an experienced writer. Brendan covers Breaking News at Insider Paper.

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