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The O2 network outage

02 Outage

December 6th 2018 will be a day for ever etched in the memories of O2’s customers, when its 3G and 4G data networks crashed leaving nearly 32m users, including affiliated Tesco Mobile, Giffgaff and Lycamobile customers without voice, text, data or in some cases no mobile network services at all.

Unlike the previous 40 minute outage back in October, it soon became apparent that this event was more significant as it stretched through the whole day leaving customers lost for alternatives. Indeed, 3G services were not fully resumed until 9.30 that evening with 4G services taking longer, coming back on at 03.30 Friday morning!

Some were able to overcome the data issue by connecting their handset or smart device to an available WiFi point.  However, for many that were mobile and on the move that simply wasn’t an option. The knock-on effect on businesses small and large across the length and breadth of the UK was significant: –

  • Many business users could not receive calls, emails, messages
  • Could not use their mobile SatNav to find appointment locations
  • Could not communicate timings to clients
  • Could not use key business app, mobile billing or Customer Management software
  • Could not access new jobs, schedules, or essential day to day information
  • Could not use their mobiles as hotspots
  • Even bus timetables at bus stops were affected

The impact, and consequent uproar was quite incredible – and the problem was not exclusively a UK problem, with customers of Y!Mobile in Japan suffered a similar outage too.

This in itself was a clue as to the nature of the problem. It soon transpired that the problem was caused by 3rd party switching equipment in O2’s UK network that had experienced software licence issues. Many red faces and profound apologies on websites, ads and social media platforms ensued. To be fair, we do feel that Mark Evans (CEO) handled the situation admirably, with care, honestly and much humility … well done Mark!

What it has of course highlighted is our dependence on and the fragility of technology. But what steps can we mere mortals take to protect ourselves against future incidence? Well of course there’s nothing you can do regarding the technical integrity of the mobile networks themselves. Be it O2, Vodafone. EE or 3 it’s feasible that any could suffer outages in the future. However, there is one small step that you can take, as already being explored by several of our clients. By having a dual SIM handset you can put a 2nd SIM card into your phone connected to a second network, just in case your day to day primary network goes down. Not ideal but will certainly ensure you are contactable and have some form of data connectivity to retain access to those business-critical apps and services that keep UK plc business on the move.

Want to know more or explore what your options might be? Please do feel free to contact us at [email protected] or smile whilst you dial our friendly sales team on 01509278278