O2 Loss of Service Highlights ‘Gobsmacking’ Contingency Failure


O2 customers have been offered compensation after being without service for a full day.

Contingency plans surrounding O2’s major service disruption yesterday have come under fire.

The UK’s second largest telecomms firm has has restored its data networks after a day of disruption for smartphone users.

Its 4G network was offline from about 5.30 am on Thursday, 6th December. The company, which blamed the loss of service on a problem with Ericsson software, said it managed reinstate the slower 3G data service on Thursday evening, although some customers still reported texting issues. 4G was reportedly back in action after about 24 hours.

Ricky Nicol, the CEO of Scotland’s largest independent telecoms firm, Commsworld, said he was gobsmacked by O2’s apparent lack of contingency plan.

Nicol said that one of the reasons he feels companies have put their trust in his business is that independent consultants rate it so highly – partly, at least, down to its contingency plans.

“It’s an open market,” he said. “So what we can do is use the existing carriers as a contingency because we have interconnects. We have interconnects with multiple carriers. So, for example, if you went to the airport and there was a problem with our plane and you couldn’t get on it for some reason, we’d get you on British Airways’ plane.”

It is not uncommon for network providers to experience downtime but, due to contingency plans in place to ensure a seamless service, customers tend not to hear about it, Nicol explained.

“It happens and nobody notices. I’m really, really surprised that O2’s service was down for so long. I’m gobsmacked by it – It doesn’t make sense.

“Commsworld isn’t ‘mobile’ but it’s networking. And in this business, of course, you need to have contingencies. So what happened with O2 just doesn’t make sense.”

“In this industry you always need to have a plan in place for when something goes wrong, so I’m really surprised. To me, it seems like their contingencies simply didn’t work.

“They’re saying that Ericsson is to blame. Ericsson are saying: ‘Well, you bought our equipment’. It’s not Ericsson’s responsibility. If a railway network has a problem they don’t blame the company that built the train.”

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Ericsson UK boss Marielle Lindgren said the “faulty software” that had caused the issues was being decommissioned.

O2 boss Mark Evans said: “I want to let our customers know how sorry I am for the impact our network data issue has had on them, and reassure them that our teams, together with Ericsson, are doing everything we can.

“We fully appreciate it’s been a poor experience and we are really sorry.”

As a gesture of goodwill, O2 said that all customers, as many as 25 million, will receive compensation.

‘Pay as you go’ customers will receive a 10% bonus when they top up their phone in the New Year.

Meanwhile, ‘pay monthly’ customers will have the equivalent of two days of charges credited to their account by the end of January.

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