Americans abroad cut off as AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile US suffer roaming outages

Why all three at once? Blame Syniverse – everyone else is

Updated AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile US are today experiencing international roaming outages, leaving at least some American subscribers unable to use their phones as they expect while overseas.

In statements to The Register, AT&T, T-Mo, and Verizon all said their international roaming connectivity is suffering due to issues with a third party, which is understood to be Syniverse. The outage has been going on for several hours, from what we can tell.

“Since the onset of these issues, Syniverse has been working closely with our network partners to restore full service,” Syniverse, a US-based comms provider that focuses on roaming services, said in a statement confirming the breakdown.

“We understand the inconvenience this has caused and appreciate your patience as we navigate this challenge.”

"We're one of several providers impacted by a third-party vendor's issue that is intermittently affecting some international roaming service," T-Mo told us. "We're working with them to resolve it."

Similarly, AT&T stated: "The AT&T network is operating normally. Some customers traveling internationally may be experiencing service disruptions due to an issue outside the AT&T network.  We're working with one of our roaming connectivity providers to resolve the issue."

Likewise, Verizon said, "An international third party communications provider is having issues with making voice and data connections with US based customers traveling overseas." 

We've asked Syniverse for more details.

The international roaming outage has hit users' ability to do calls and texts, and reach the internet. According to Verizon, it's not a complete blackout. "70 percent of calls and data connections are going through at this time," the carrier firm told The Register in the past hour or so.

For AT&T, it's the telecom giant's third notable outage this year so far, after one in February that happened during a network expansion and one earlier this month that saw AT&T customers unable to call non-AT&T customers.

As for what the carriers may do after the outage is resolved to placate disgruntled users, the answer is probably nothing other than saying sorry, though some customers may get a small credit, like AT&T denizens received following the February outage. ®

Updated to add on June 28

It appears the roaming outage is still ongoing to at least some degree. T-Mobile US told us today:

International roaming services are working as expected for the vast majority of our customers due to our diverse roaming routing architecture. We are continuing to work with our third-party vendor to resolve the issues a small number of our customers may be intermittently experiencing.

That vendor being Syniverse. We've asked the other telcos for an update, too.

We've also heard that at least some visitors to the United States have been unable to use their international roaming in the country. One reader using a Canadian cell carrier told us they were unable to use their phone on roaming after landing in Chicago.

Indeed, in an advisory, Snyiverse acknowledged that folks arriving in North America may be affected by the roaming meltdown:

Starting on the morning of June 26th, we became aware of an intermittent service disruption affecting North American mobile phone users traveling overseas or individuals traveling into North America. For some users, this issue prevented them from being able to make calls, send messages, or access mobile applications while roaming.

"We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience and frustration this has caused many people," the biz added.

"Please know that we are working around the clock to resolve this issue. Our technical teams are collaborating with our mobile network operator partners worldwide to identify and rectify the root cause of the disruption. We are deploying all necessary resources to restore regular service as quickly as possible."

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