T-Mobile's network is experiencing outages across the country that are trickling down and causing issues on Verizon and AT&T as well. While the other carriers say that their networks are operating normally, any calls placed to or from a T-Mobile phone may not be going through. Data seems to be inaccessible to some customers as well.
“We’re aware that another carrier is having network issues. Calls to and from that carrier may receive an error message,” reads a salty statement Verizon gave to The Verge.
Since Sprint is now owned by T-Mobile and shares infrastructure, that network is also directly affected.
Not all customers across the country are uniformly experiencing outages. I just placed a call with my T-Mobile device a few minutes ago and didn't notice any issues, and my editor managed to place a call from a Google Fi SIM, but many people on Twitter seem to be unable to place any calls whatsoever.
Fortunately, Wi-Fi calling appears to be working just fine, so if your T-Mobile phone supports it you should make sure that feature is enabled.
The true monopoly — This problem just goes to show that the outage of one cell network really means an outage for all of them, as you never really know what carrier the phone you're trying to reach is on. And the U.S. is essentially at the mercy of just three major carriers now — even smaller players like U.S. Cellular and Google Fi largely piggyback off the network infrastructure of the big guys.
We like to talk about how Facebook or Google control the internet, but this is a reminder that really it's ISPs and network operators that decide whether we can communicate with other people or get online at all.