After 4-day outage, AT&T says service is back – Brainerd Dispatch

BRAINERD — After days of frustration for AT&T customers, the communications company reports its service was restored in Minnesota Friday, Oct. 14.

An outage affecting about 155,000 AT&T customers started the morning of Tuesday, Oct. 11, and was caused by a repair crew working in Minneapolis cutting through fiber optic cables, which in turn took out a number of AT&T’s cell towers, company officials reported. Days after the fiber was cut, the company’s customers in the Brainerd area continued to report spotty or no service on their cellphones and other devices.

“Some of our customers in Brainerd may have been affected by a wireless outage caused by a fiber cut on a third-party network,” said an AT&T spokesperson in an emailed statement Friday afternoon to the Dispatch. “Service has been restored and is operating normally.”

The loss of coverage for much of the week left customers who rely on cellphone use and service for their sole connections without a link to everyday services.

One of the systems downed by the outage was FirstNet, said John Davis, Brainerd Police Department assistant chief. FirstNet is a carrier service for emergency first responders which uses AT&T signals to operate. Davis said on the FirstNet network, the users receive priority cell tower use, essentially eliminating dropped calls or waiting on busy towers.

Though the cellular service of the Brainerd Police Department was down, operations continued as normal, said Davis.

“(The cellular outage) doesn’t impact us responding to calls, doesn’t impact us if we have to issue citations or issue out any other paperwork or anything, we just do it in a different way,” Davis said.

Paperwork and citations were done with paper and pen for the first time in a while, Davis said.

Although some work went a little bit slower the last few days, Davis said the department has redundancies in place and information police officers would normally get through their computers was instead sent to them through the Crow Wing County radio dispatch center.

“The redundancy is information comes from our dispatchers over the radio, just like it did before we had mobile computers,” Davis said. “So, we’re fortunate that we’re dispatched by the Crow Wing County Sheriff’s Office. They have great dispatchers over there and a great dispatch center.”

The week did not go as well for Colleen Goedker, a Realtor and vice president of Goedker Realty Inc. Goedker said she is slowly finding out who was trying to contact her throughout the week.

“As of right now, things seem to be better,” Goedker said Friday. “I can use my cellphone, I have been getting some voicemails and text messages, but it’s kind of hit-and-miss, especially yesterday.”

Goedker said her real estate business runs through her cellphone, which has been at a standstill this week.

“Today was the first day that things kind of started coming through,” Goedker said. “This morning, I got 15 voicemails that came through. And I had no clue that those people had even called me yesterday or the day before. Which is an issue when you’re in real estate.”

With communication down, Goedker said there were no negotiations for houses, no communicating with title companies or lenders, and there were clients thinking she was ignoring them as they tried to make a major purchase.

“There’s a listing that we were trying to capture, and I’ve not been able to connect with them,” Goedker said. “So I don’t know if I’ve lost that or not; chances are yes. But I’ve still not been able to get confirmation back from them. Whether through email, texting or voicemail. So yeah, I mean, I think overall, this is gonna affect our business.”

The outages started happening around 7:50 am Tuesday but it was around 1 pm when Baxter AT&T was notified about the cause of the incident, said Ryan Harrison, Baxter AT&T assistant store manager, in an interview Wednesday.

“There was a third-party utility company going to do service on a tower in Minneapolis and they had cut two fiber lines, which shut down service to, I think it was, 124 towers from Minneapolis to Detroit Lakes,” Harrison said at the time.

Also on Tuesday the Crow Wing County Sheriff’s Office notified residents, through social media and its website, of the outage at about 9:17 am and asked them to use a landline or the emergency SOS feature on the phone if anyone needed to call 911.

The AT&T spokesperson said if a customer is out of service or experiencing trouble, they should call support at 800-288-2020.

TIM SPEIER, staff writer, can be reached on Twitter

@timmy2thyme

call 218-855-5859 or email

[email protected]

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