Vineyard hit by nationwide cell disruption 

People impacted by the cell service disruption saw an "SOS" on their screen. —Eunki Seonwoo

Updated Feb. 23

The Vineyard was not spared from the nationwide cell service disruption on Thursday, but the impact it received seems to have been on the lower end. 

It is uncertain how many on-Island customers have been impacted by the disruption, but a number of people on the local social media page Islanders Talk said they couldn’t access cell service and some of their phones were stuck with an “SOS” on their screens.

AT&T was the main carrier affected by the outage. According to Downdetector, a site that shows cell service outages in real time through customers self-reporting, over 70,000 AT&T customers had been impacted nationwide at its highest around 9 am. Since the data is from reports by users, the actual number of customers without service is potentially higher. Service was restored for customers throughout the day. 

“Some customers in your area are having trouble making or receiving calls. As a result, we are experiencing long hold times. We apologize for this inconvenience and we are working to resolve this issue,” a statement on the AT&T website stated. 

It is uncertain what caused the mass disruption or how many customers on Martha’s Vineyard were impacted. AT&T spokesperson Karen Twomey told The Times on Thursday afternoon that no more details were available at that time and provided the following statement: 

“We have restored wireless service to all our affected customers. We sincerely apologize to them. Keeping our customers connected remains our top priority, and we are taking steps to ensure our customers do not experience this again in the future.”

Other carriers, like Verizon, also experienced some outages on Thursday. 

Massachusetts State Police also posted on X asking people not to call 911 to check if their cell phone works. 

“Many 911 centers in the state are being flooded w/ calls from people trying to see if 911 works from their cell phone. Please do not do this,” the state police said in the post. “If you can successfully place a non-emergency call to another number via cell service then your 911 service will also work.” 

Dukes County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Heather Arpin said while there were a couple of people who called to check whether the phones were working, the Regional Emergency Communications Center did not receive the flood of calls the State Police mentioned. 

“The operations have not been affected,” she said. 

Edgartown Police Chief Bruce McNamee said his department had also not received any reports regarding the service disruption. McNamee also said some of his officers use AT&T but he had not heard about issues from them.

West Tisbury Police Chief Matthew Mincone also said there was no major impact from the outage. 

“Internet went to a crawl, but no real impact,” he said.

Updated with a statement from AT&T.


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