NEW YORK (AP) – AT&T's new digital home phone service failed across the country Tuesday, illustrating continuing reliability issues with Internet-based phone service.
Customers of AT&T Inc.'s U-verse Voice said their landline phones had no dial tones since the morning. Reached by cell phone, the customers said those who called them got a message that the line had been disconnected. Support personnel are telling customers that a server crash brought down U-verse Voice in AT&T's entire 22-state local phone service area.
AT&T spokeswoman Mari Melguizo said the outage started at about 10:30 a.m., and service was restored to most subscribers at 2:45 p.m. She said the extent of the outage was unknown.
AT&T has 1.15 million U-verse Voice customers. The service sends calls over subscriber's Internet connections, making it technically similar to independent Internet phone services such as Vonage. The technology, known as VoIP, has a spotty reliability record compared with standard phone service, though it has been improving. U-Verse Internet and TV services weren't affected by the Voice outage.
Charles Tillman, a bank employee working from his home in Jupiter, Fla., said the outage was "infuriating."
"If you have a client calling and they get a message saying it's a non-working number, they don't know it's a service outage," he said. "Thankfully, I have my cell phone."
Kimberly Dotseth, a real-estate broker in San Diego, was also upset that clients were unable to reach her.
"It's a big deal to me to just have the calls go off into the ether somewhere," she said. She has been a U-verse customer only for a month and now wants to switch back to a regular landline.
U-verse Voice is only available in areas where AT&T has upgraded the local phone network to support TV service over phone lines.