After Japan’s mega-earthquake, the island of Maui in the State of Hawaii was under a Tsunami warning like most of the Pacific Rim during the evening of March 10 and early into the morning of March 11. Maui county emergency officials had standardized on AT&T Wireless service and iPhones for their work. That decision caused them a big problem as reported by KITV news.
AT&T Wireless service failed statewide the evening of March 10 soon after news of the earthquake and the possibility of a Tsunami was announced. AT&T told KITV that the call volume that evening was 5 to 6 times normal call volume. AT&T blamed their network failure on this increased call volume. It is interesting that Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon phones continued to work through the evening although officials asked everyone to not make calls except in emergencies.
AT&T said that the T-Mobile purchase will increase capacity by 30% as if that would help anything. Capacity will increase by zero because T-Mobile will presumably bring over much of their current customer base for which the network is configured. The more likely scenario is that AT&T’s already overtaxed networks will cause current T-Mobile customers to also lose service during an emergency.
That said, no mobile service provider is immune from network failures. As I write this, Verizon Wireless has been out of service for over 5 hours in my area. I called to confirm the outage. The courteous but otherwise uninformative customer service representative could not tell me:
– The cause of the outage
– How widespread the outage is
– When service would be restored (not even a ballpark figure)