Outage Strikes O2 UK

4:00 AM -- Customers of Telefónica UK Ltd. 's O2 have been unable to make calls, sends texts or use data services since Wednesday afternoon following a widespread network outage. The problem started around 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday and appeared to have been resolved (at least for some) shortly after 9:00 a.m. Thursday (local time).

O2, which has about 23 million customers, provided the following explanation for the service outage early Thursday morning: "We can confirm that the problem with our mobile service is due to a fault with one of our network systems, which has meant some mobile phone numbers are not registering correctly on our network. As a result, some customers are having difficulty making or receiving calls, sending texts or using data."

Not only that, customers were also having difficulty even getting to that online explanation, as that Web page soon became unavailable (at least temporarily), most likely due to the volume of access requests. The operator also posted updates on this blog.

An O2 spokesman declined to provide further details when asked about the service outage by Light Reading Mobile.

It's not known precisely how many customers have been affected, though it's clear that O2 customers throughout the U.K. were affected. Customers of O2's MVNO partners, such as GiffGaff or Tesco Mobile, have also been affected, according to this BBC report.

O2's disruption follows the major network outage that Orange France suffered last week, where 30 million customers were left without service for 12 hours. According to Orange, a software fault in Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) equipment caused problems on a home location register (HLR).

O2's next challenge will be to placate its customers, many of which will be considering whether the operator can be relied upon to maintain a constant service in the future. Orange France has stated that it will be providing a day of free calls and texts and a free data usage top-up in September as compensation for its outage -- what will O2 do?

— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Light Reading

Gabriel Brown 12/5/2012 | 5:28:07 PM
re: Outage Strikes O2 UK

Via Twitter...

"What did one O2 customer say to the other? Nothing!"

Hey I just met you, and this is crazy. But I'm on O2, so fax me maybe.


Phon... signa... intermi...nt jus.. abl.. to... communi... #O2


O2's new plan looks impressive. 500 smoke signals, unlimited semaphore and 1 message in a bottle every month #O2


I'm dreading my O2 signal coming back and discovering NO-ONE'S been trying to call me


What did a O2 customer say to a Vodafone Customer? Nothing. Nothing at all!


Using my O2 smartphone to see if my refund from Clinton Cards has appeared in my Natwest account :(


O2 customer walks into a bar... Wait, no, back to no bars again


BREAKING: O2 launches almost fully functioning 2G phone.


digits 12/5/2012 | 5:28:07 PM
re: Outage Strikes O2 UK

Gabe, I've got news for you, mate...

It's just gone 10am London time and service has been restored in my area at least. The O2 crew had better be thinking of some nice treats for its customers.

Gabriel Brown 12/5/2012 | 5:28:07 PM
re: Outage Strikes O2 UK

My wife is on O2. She didn't respond to my texts or calls yesterday. I thought she was just ignoring me...

digits 12/5/2012 | 5:28:06 PM
re: Outage Strikes O2 UK

Of course, every network operator will be sympathetic and be thinking that they're glad it's not them this time around...

And we all know that customers don't thank their service provider each day for having a service that normally works.

But that's because customers are paying for a service that is meant to be 24x7 and all they care about is their service.

This is why O2's immediate response to its customers is absolutely critical.

I am an O2 customer affected to by the downtime. I'll be disappointed if I hear nothing from the company in terms of an apology and some sort of offer. But it needs to act fast to avoid churn, which I'm sure is of great concern especially in terms of its business customers.

What O2 must avoid is behaving like T-Mobile UK did to me a few months ago, which was to treat me like an annoyance and act like I was in the wrong when I suffered service interruption due to a handset failure. As soon as that contract is up I won't be resigning with T-Mobile UK under any circumstances - whether I switch that account to O2 remains to be seen.

Gabriel Brown 12/5/2012 | 5:28:06 PM
re: Outage Strikes O2 UK

More seriously, I've met several the O2 people that run the core and the voice service. They will be absolutely gutted.

Hearing them recount previous, but much lesser, failures, I was incredibly impressed by how much they care about up-time, and quality, and by the lenghts they go to to ensure stuff works. Not just for their bonuses, but for professional pride.

Gabriel Brown 12/5/2012 | 5:28:06 PM
re: Outage Strikes O2 UK

haha... very funny... <quickly nips home/>

digits 12/5/2012 | 5:28:06 PM
re: Outage Strikes O2 UK

How customers have been responding on Twitter to the O2 outage:

-- O2's new plan looks impressive. 500 smoke signals, unlimited semaphore and 1 message in a bottle every month

-- Business customers get a dedicated man standing on a hill with a whiteboard, dry-wipe marker and binoculars.

-- Having issues with ? Put your phone to Airplane Mode, then turn on and off 4 times. It won't stop the problem but will help pass the time

-- So my  phone is now FINALLY working. FYI, when  went down, I went and got an iPhone the next day! 

-- Dear . My work phone still seems to work fine and won't stop ringing. Please advise. 

-- I went to a wedding recently at the  arena, turned out to be a short event with no reception.

Anne Morris 12/5/2012 | 5:28:05 PM
re: Outage Strikes O2 UK

As your story mentioned, those of us in France were affected by a complete Orange France outage on Friday - I was not amused when I could not contact local friends to see who was going to the swimwear showcase!

Anyway, so far I've had a text presenting all Oranges excuses, and await to see what they will come up with. I've seen the reports about free calls etc etc but had not yet been notified by customer services...

It's not good - I'm up for renewal soon and will be considering my options carefully, but then again, this could happen to any of them, couldn't it?

More feedback by Orange (said in a French accent) would be good...


Gabriel Brown 12/5/2012 | 5:28:05 PM
re: Outage Strikes O2 UK

Here's a good one discussing potential causes from The Register boards:

"Please God...

...let this come down to outsourcing..."

Gaurav2410 12/5/2012 | 5:28:03 PM
re: Outage Strikes O2 UK

From the news Alcatel Lucent HLR was responsible for ORANGE FRANCE outage. May i know which vendor's and which equipment is responsible for O2's Outage.

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