Mobile phone customers report problems with phone calls, text messages

(Image: Deutsche Telekom/Handout, Graphic: The Desk)

A network issue caused a massive disruption to phone and text message services for millions of T-Mobile and Sprint customers on Monday, according to numerous complaints posted to social media.

Customers of T-Mobile first began reporting problems making phone calls and sending and receiving text messages around 10 a.m. Pacific Time (1 p.m. Eastern Time), according to posts on social media and reports on the website Down Detector.

Similar reports began trickling in from customers of T-Mobile competitors AT&T and Verizon, according to reports. The outage is impacting prepaid and mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) of the three carriers, including MetroPCS, Cricket Wireless, Visible, Straight Talk Wireless and Simply Mobile.

Relying on information from a security expert, The Desk reported on Monday that the issue stemmed from an outage at Centurylink-owned Level 3 Communications, a Tier 1 provider that routes phone and data services on behalf of telecommunication companies like T-Mobile. But an official with Level 3 Communications told media outlets their services were working just fine and that the problem existed on T-Mobile’s end.

A corporate employee with T-Mobile later confirmed to The Desk that the glitch originated on T-Mobile’s end with a similar Tier 1 service offered by Sprint. The employee spoke on background and asked not to be named because they were not authorized to speak to the media. T-Mobile and Sprint merged to form a single company in April.

T-Mobile has not officially provided an explanation on the outage, though executives at the company have acknowledged it on Twitter and said company engineers were working diligently to restore service.