Solar Flare Likely Not Related To Cellular Outages

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24 Feb 2024 10:20 PM

A data outage affecting cellular customers is not likely related to recent solar activity. The network outages began before sunrise Thursday, with tens of thousands of customers reporting a loss of service, primarily with AT&T.

Coincidentally, two X-Class solar flares occurred late Wednesday into Thursday (top of page), which could continue to have impacts on high-frequency radio signals. Typically, solar flares are not strong enough to impact cellular data and are more likely to impact radio and satellite communication.



The Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) issued the following statement about the event:

Two Major Solar Flares; Effects on Cellular Networks Unlikely

The Sun emitted two strong solar flares (both R3 on the NOAA Space Weather Scales), the first one peaking at 6:07 p.m. EST on Feb. 21, 2024, and the second peaking at 1:32 a.m. EST on Feb. 22, 2024. 

While solar flares can affect communication systems, radar, and the Global Positioning System, based on the intensity of the eruption and associated phenomena, it is highly unlikely that these flares contributed to the widely reported cellular network outages. 

NOAA and SWPC will continue to monitor the solar and near-Earth space environment for potential impacts to critical infrastructure and essential services.

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