Problems with Sprint cell service were affecting callers who dialed 911 in the Washington area and across the National Capital region, officials said Tuesday.
The problems were said to be resolved Wednesday morning.
The issues began around noon Tuesday. Sprint tweeted that “some wireline customers in D.C. were “unable to access service” because of a fire and a power outage and said the company was “working quickly” to restore service. The company recommended that 911 callers text 911 instead.
Also around noon, the Fairfax County Police Department tweeted that it was experiencing cellular connection difficulties and said Sprint users experiencing an emergency should text 911 or use a landline instead.
The problems were related to Sprint service, a spokesman for the department said, and recommended that anyone who needed emergency assistance should text or use a landline or a cellphone with service from another provider. Service was fully restored by 10:45 p.m.
At around 12:45 p.m., a Sprint spokeswoman said the problems were caused by “an extensive commercial power outage and fire.”
Adrienne Norton, a company spokeswoman, said in an email that the fire — which happened across from a switch site — caused a commercial power failure to Sprint’s D.C. wireline switch and the company’s generators kicked in to provide power but ran into issues.
By 7 p.m., all generator power was restored, Norton said. “Our teams are working aggressively to restore remaining wireline equipment that was impacted from the power failure,” she added. She did not estimate when service would be restored.
Arlington, Prince George’s, Montgomery and Prince William counties reported similar problems.
The D.C. fire impacted circuits at the company’s Reston data center, Norton and Prince William County officials said.
Authorities in Virginia were first alerted about the issue around 10:30 a.m., after someone tried calling 911 from their cellphone and kept getting a fast busy signal, said Capt. Heidi B. Braun, county’s director of public safety communications, in an email message.
“This outage impacts the ability for Sprint cellphone carriers to dial 911. All other carriers are working correctly, as are land lines,” Braun said. “What was initially thought to be impacting only Fairfax and Arlington has now expanded to the entire National Capital Region, as well as parts of Delaware, Pennsylvania, and the Eastern shore.”