AT&T users regain service in Lexington, Nicholasville

AT&T, a widely used cell phone service provider and the only provider that carries the popular Apple iPhone line, experienced widespread outages in Central Kentucky on Thursday.

Service interruptions, which affected customers on the 2G and 3G networks in Lexington and Nicholasville, began about 10 a.m. Service was restored about 2:30 p.m., said Cathy Lewandowski, a spokeswoman for AT&T.

AT&T technicians were still investigating the cause of the problem late Thursday afternoon, Lewandowski said.

She said the company will work with each customer affected by the service outage to reach a solution that addresses the effect on the customer.

Earlier Thursday, Lewandowski issued a statement apologizing for the outage.

She would not give any details about the number of customers or the area that was affected.

"It's hard to tell as far as how many customers," she said. "This was a widespread outage."

The outage was an inconvenience for many customers, but it did not affect agencies that rely primarily on land-line phone and radio communication.

"The only people it's affected is me with my cell phone," said LexTran general manager Rocky Burke.

"We don't dispatch over our cell phones, for the most part," Kentucky State Police spokesman Lt. David Jude said. State troopers and others in his agency generally rely on radio communication, he said.

"Where I can see it affecting is where the complainants are calling in," Jude said.

The outage apparently caused a flood of calls to dispatchers at the Lexington Division of Enhanced 911 because people calling about their cell phone service were mistakenly directed there, police spokeswoman Sherelle Roberts said.

Lexington customers apparently were dialing 611, a customer-service number that works only from AT&T cell phones, from work and home phones. Many of those land lines automatically rerouted 611 calls to 911, Roberts said.

"They're tying up 911, of course with no malicious intent," Roberts said Thursday morning.

Many police officers in Lexington use iPhones, Roberts said, but the service interruption was not affecting police work.

She said the outage meant officers were "going to have to use the radio."

Roberts said police were told that the problem stemmed from a problem at an AT&T center in Winchester. Lewandowski said she could not confirm that.

The outage did provide a delay for some parents.

"One example of how the outage is affecting our schools is that many parents list their cell phone numbers as their primary contact information. So when we've needed to reach people today, we've had to find other ways," Fayette County Public Schools spokeswoman Lisa Deffendall said.