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'We Let Down Many of Our Customers': AT&T CEO Reveals Cause of Mass Outages and How Much Money Affected Customers Will Get CEO John Stankey penned a letter to employees about the situation on Sunday.

By Emily Rella

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Scotty Perry/Bloomberg | Getty Images
CEO John Stankey

The CEO of AT&T is speaking out following the mass outages last week that left thousands of customers without service.

In a letter sent to employees on Sunday, CEO John Stankey explained that Thursday's outage was caused by "the application and execution of an incorrect process used while working to expand our network" and confirmed that roughly 75% of AT&T customers in the U.S. were unable to access the network in the morning. Service was restored around 1 p.m. EST.

"No matter the timing, one thing is clear – we let down many of our customers, including many of you and your families. For that, we apologize," Stankey wrote. "Moments like these are a test of resilience. This is not our first network outage, and it won't be our last – unfortunately, it's the reality of our business. What matters most is how we react, adapt, and improve to deliver the service our customers need and expect."

Related: 'I Want a Free Month': Thousands of Customers Furious at AT&T After Widespread Outages

Stankey then revealed that the consumer and business customers "most impacted" by the outage would receive an automatic $5 account credit. Prepaid customers will have other options available, though the company did not specify what those options were.

"I believe this approach is fully manageable while achieving the 2024 business objectives we have set for ourselves and our stated financial guidance," Stankey said.

The widespread outages peaked on Thursday around 8 a.m. EST when over 74,000 customers were unable to access their networks. Over 90% of people who reported issues said that they were without service and unable to make or receive calls.

AT&T finished 2023 strong, with its full-year mobility service revenue up 4.4% from the same time last year — the highest in company history.

"We accomplished exactly what we said we would in 2023, delivering sustainable growth and consistent business performance, resulting in full-year free cash flow of $16.8 billion, ahead of our raised guidance," Stankey said in a release at the time. "As we advance our lead in converged connectivity, we will continue to scale our best-in-class 5G and fiber networks to meet customers' growing demand for seamless, ubiquitous broadband, and drive durable growth for shareholders."

Related: Square Outage Causes Payment Problem for Small Businesses

AT&T was down just over 12% in a one-year period as of Monday afternoon.

Emily Rella

Entrepreneur Staff

Senior News Writer

Emily Rella is a Senior News Writer at Previously, she was an editor at Verizon Media. Her coverage spans features, business, lifestyle, tech, entertainment, and lifestyle. She is a 2015 graduate of Boston College and a Ridgefield, CT native. Find her on Twitter at @EmilyKRella.

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