AT&T Wireless on Sept. 28 experienced a nationwide outage of its messaging service, affecting customers for about 3 hours.
According to officials of San Antonio-based AT&T, the outage started in the early afternoon ET and ended late in the afternoon.
It did not, as far as AT&T could ascertain, affect voice calling. "It only impacted customers ability to send and receive messages from their phones," said company spokesperson Brad Mays in an e-mail exchange.
How many customers were affected by the outage is unclear.
At least three customers contacted about the outage said they were not aware of any problems with their service. But another reported difficulty in accessing the network. That customer received a number of "all circuits are busy" messages when trying to dial out.
To read about other recent AT&T service outages, click here.
Such outages in mobile short messaging services are not uncommon, because they often rely on a single point of failure, according to Jack Gold, president of J. Gold Associates, a research firm focused on mobility and wireless.
"Often everything goes through a single server, so if the mail server goes down, the whole network falls apart and you cant get any messages out to anyone," he said.
Gold said he believes that consumer-oriented wireless operators dont view messaging as "mission-critical" compared with voice.
"Its played second fiddle to the voice systems," he said.
While consumers may tolerate such outages, however, business users dont have the same attitude.
"The bottom line for the business user who needs reliable data services for e-mail is that you need to look at what the carrier will provide. How seriously do they take the SLA [service-level agreement]? That is a lesson in any of the services," he said.
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