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16 October 20120 Comments by Jon M

O2 hit by another outage

Customers of O2 (as well as virtual operator Giffgaff and Tesco Mobile which rely on their network) were left furious as the company was hit by another in a long list of major outages. The latest issue hit last Friday and is said to have affected about 10% of users – that equates to millions of customers. The fault left them infuriated and unable to make or receive calls or SMS messages for hours. As people tend to rely more and more on their mobile phones, people are becoming increasingly unforgiving about avoidable problems such as this.

Most affected users suffered intermittent coverage for much of Friday afternoon and evening but some were still left with problems over the weekend and we’ve even heard of customers who were still having issues four days later on Monday morning. Another kick in the teeth for users was O2‘s quick confirmation that they didn’t consider the issue serious enough to deserve any sort of compensation.

The issue was shown not to be geographically isolated – customers across the UK suffered from the outage. And although many users had ongoing problems related to a backlog of people trying to reconnect, the company claimed that the root issue was fixed within three and a half hours. In some cases, users had to reboot their phones to enable a connection.

What happened was that the part of the network that manages traffic failed on Friday morning. This caused issues with connecting to the network which cascaded by the afternoon and caused major problems for several hours. While O2 claim the final fix was in place by 15:30 and service should have been restored by the evening, the backlog continued to produce errors for several hours afterwards. There’s no word about what level of redundancy was available.

An O2 spokesperson said that the outage was regrettable but that they would not be offering any compensation and only a half-hearted apology. They also seemed to try to deflect the blame onto their suppliers rather than taking responsibility themselves which is a shame. Even more worrying, even though we don’t yet have full details of what happened, it sounds remarkably similar to the story of the last outage.

That previous widespread O2 outage was in July and lasted 24 hours. It was caused by issues with the Home Location Register which holds information about each subscriber and within the network’s backbone, connects to the Mobile Switching Centre.

It’s even worse for Giffgaff customers as they were not only affected by July’s O2 outage but also had their own problems to deal with back in March. But hey, at least they didn’t recently make this tweet:

So were you affected by the outage? How long did you have without signal? Was it fixed when they said it was? And do you think that O2 are right not to offer compensation? As always, let us know in the comments below 🙂

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