AT&T mobile customers and some customers of other wireless carriers were without cellphone service for hours Tuesday during an outage that affected Kentucky, Tennessee and parts of surrounding states.
Buddy Rogers, spokesman for the Kentucky Division of Emergency Management, said it was his understanding that the outage began when a fiber-optic cable was cut in Western Kentucky, near the Tennessee line.
AT&T spokesman Lance Skelly said Tuesday night that "a systemic malfunction ... a hardware malfunction" caused the outage.
Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile customers also reported problems.
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Andrew Melnykovych, spokesman for the Kentucky Public Service Commission, said carriers other than AT&T were affected because of "interconnection and roaming arrangements."
"Carriers have agreements to route calls over each others' facilities, so if a major cable or other facility is damaged, it affects more than just the owner/operator of that facility," Melnykovych said in an email.
AT&T spokeswoman Cathy Lewandowski said she could not confirm that a cut cable caused the outage and could not comment on AT&T's relationship with the other carriers.
She said in a statement just before 10 p.m. that "wireless and wireline service has been restored for all customers in parts of the Southeast affected by a hardware-related network issue. Our engineers completed repairs, and service is running normally. We apologize for any inconvenience."
Some AT&T customers in Lexington began reporting that their service came back just before 8 p.m. Outages were first reported Tuesday afternoon.
"Service is slowly being restored," Lewandowski said just after 8:30 p.m.
According to the website Downdetector.com, AT&T customers in Lexington, Louisville, Bowling Green and Owensboro; Nashville, Knoxville and Chattanooga; Huntsville, Ala.; and Evansville, Ind., were among the most affected. AT&T's Skelly said he did not know how many customers were affected.
Trevor Thomas, a spokesman for Verizon Wireless, said customers in parts of Kentucky, Indiana, Tennessee and Alabama were without service Tuesday, but Verizon service was restored about 8:20 p.m. Thomas said Verizon had worked with its vendor to resolve the problem.
Sprint responded to customer complaints in Kentucky, Alabama and Tennessee via Twitter, saying the problem had been "caused by a local exchange provider. Network teams working to restore ASAP."
T-Mobile posted as well, saying, "We're aware that customers across all carriers are affected in this region. Engineers are on it and working to restore services asap."
Sprint and T-Mobile said the problem was being resolved during the same time frame as AT&T and Verizon.