AT&T has clarified that the significant network disruption that left tens of thousands of customers without cellular service on Thursday was not the result of a cyberattack but was instead due to an operational error during network expansion efforts. The nationwide outage, which began in the early hours of the morning, affected major metropolitan areas, including Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, and Miami, before service was fully restored by 6 p.m. ET.

"Based on our initial review, we believe the outage was caused by the application & execution of an incorrect process used as we were expanding our network, not a cyberattack," AT&T stated on X, emphasizing that the company is committed to continuing its assessment to maintain the quality of service customers expect.

The outage was first reported around 3:30 a.m. ET, with Downdetector, a website tracking service interruptions, showing a peak of more than 73,000 reports by 9 a.m. ET. The number of complaints saw a significant decrease by the early afternoon, indicating that AT&T's network teams were actively working to resolve the issue. The company issued a statement to FOX Business, acknowledging the disruption and assuring that three-quarters of the network had been restored with efforts ongoing to fully reinstate service.

Despite the widespread disruption, a U.S. defense official informed Fox News that there was no indication of a cyberattack, a sentiment echoed by the FBI, which stated it was in contact with AT&T and ready to respond to any malicious activity if discovered. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) also acknowledged awareness of the outages, with its Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau actively investigating the situation.

AT&T extended an apology for the inconvenience caused by the outage, particularly to those customers who expressed their frustrations on social media. "We have restored wireless service to all our affected customers," AT&T announced. "We sincerely apologize to them. Keeping our customers connected remains our top priority, and we are taking steps to ensure our customers do not experience this again in the future."

Interestingly, the outage also led to a spike in reported disruptions for T-Mobile and Verizon customers, though both companies confirmed that their networks were functioning normally. The issues experienced by their customers were likely due to failed attempts at connecting to users on AT&T's affected network.

As AT&T continues its assessment of the outage to prevent future occurrences, the incident highlights the critical importance of network reliability and the swift response required by service providers to mitigate impacts on their customers, including potential risks to emergency communications.