Cellular phone service was out the Carthage, Joplin and Springfield areas, western Missouri and most of Kansas for about two hours Thursday morning, forcing people to scramble for ways to communicate.
Phone service went out shortly after 9 a.m. on Thursday for customers of AT&T, one of the largest carriers in the nation and the area.
“Earlier today, some customers in Kansas and Western Missouri may have experienced some issues with 3G wireless services,” AT&T said in a written statement it emailed to The Carthage Press shortly after noon Thursday. “AT&T technicians quickly worked to resolve the issue, and service is currently running normally. We apologize for any inconvenience to our customers.”
The social networking site Facebook was abuzz with conversation about the outage in Carthage and throughout the area affected.
AT&T’s Facebook page had people reporting outages in Kansas City and its suburbs, Joplin, Springfield, Branson, Nixa, Wichita and other areas.
The outage apparently only affected AT&T’s 3G voice and data network. Users with other companies were reporting normal service.
In some cases, people lost all service, including texting and Internet on their smart phones. Others could text during the outage, or check the internet, but could not make phone calls.
In this modern age, when the cellular phone has replaced the landline phone in many homes, many people were saying the loss of cellular service was a big inconvenience.
“I am realizing that if an emergency arises, there is no way to call 911,” said Dale Auguston, Springfield, on The Carthage Press Facebook page. “I think I am going to get another phone with a different carrier, no contract, and have options with two carriers.”
Tiffany Chenault, operations manager with the Jasper County Emergency Services Dispatch Center south of Carthage, said the outage did not affect people’s ability to call for help in an emergency.
“Only the calls people tried to make on their cell phone to our office number would have been affected,” Chenault said. “No emergency service was affected because calling 9-1-1 doesn’t require cellular service on any phone. That’s why children can pick a discarded cell phone at home and still call 9-1-1, that service doesn’t require an active cell phone account.”
Chenault said the center received a number of calls from firefighters, police and other emergency workers making sure that the center was still receiving 9-1-1 calls in the outage.
Lee Carlson, owner and operator of Rumor Has It, a new restaurant at 227 E. Third St., just off the Carthage Square, said his business was seriously affected because, for now, they take carryout and delivery orders only by phone.
Page 2 of 2 - He and his wife Lilly Carlson plan to open their business to sit-down traffic next week, but call-in orders are nearly all of their business for now.
“It’s huge for us, it’s the difference between are we open or are we closed,” Lee Carlson, who also serves on the Carthage City Council, said. “If the cell phone doesn’t work, we may as well be closed because we’re not doing any business and that impacts our business and our income.”
Carlson said his family is one of those that has given up their landline phones in favor of only using their cell phones. He said they considered a landline phone for their restaurant, but decided it was a $70-to-$100-per-month expense that they didn’t need.
“It seems like the only thing the land line was good for was getting calls from telemarketers and politicians,” Carlson said. “Most of the people I know started calling us and each other on the cell phone so we’ve given up our land lines. I think people keep the land line for the security of 9-1-1 service because if you call 9-1-1 on a land line, they know exactly where you are.”