Most customers of Inland Cellular had their calling and texting capabilities restored Friday following an outage that lasted more than 24 hours, but those with newer phones were still without service.
By late morning Friday, customers with older phones could largely call and text as they did before the outage but it took some time before they could reach all locations and all non-Inland Cellular networks. Customers were receiving an “all circuits are busy” signal on some calls as late as 9 p.m.
Company Executive Vice President Chip Damato said about 5,000 customers who got phones after March 23 did not have service restored Friday, but were expected to be able to call and text by early this morning. Updates were pushed to those phones starting at about 9 p.m. Friday at a rate of about 1,000 an hour.
A glitch during a software maintenance procedure in the early morning hours of Thursday caused the company’s nearly 40,000 customers to lose the ability to make or receive phone calls and texts. Damato said a piece of software known as a code division multiple access switch reverted to an older version during the maintenance and caused the outage.
“We basically had to redownload and rebuild all the software in that switch and so (Friday) morning we got everything kind of reestablished.”
That meant the basics of the company’s system was restored. Most customers were able to make and receive calls from other Inland Cellular customers. Throughout the day, other pieces were restored and most customers could connect via phone to a wider array of landlines and cellular providers.
However, because the switch reverted to an older version, it would not recognize newer phones.
Calls to 911 worked in some locations and for some customers during the outage, but there were also disruptions in that system.
“It was kind of hit and miss,” Damato said.
Inland Cellular customers didn’t lose their ability to connect to the internet and some customers turned to applications like Facebook Messenger or Microsoft Teams to communicate while their service was down.
Damato said Inland Cellular customer services representatives were busy Friday answering questions from those who use the service, and he and many others at the company had worked through the night to fix the problem. He said the company lost some customers over the outage and others were angry.
“We just have to keep our heads down and do our thing and win those customers back,” he said.
“We are going to keep pushing to be of value to the communities we serve and we understand the important role we play in people’s lives and we definitely take that responsibility seriously.”
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