O2: Fail, fail and fail again

It’s been a bit of a bad week for O2 and their UK network.

On Monday a fire at an unnamed substation took out a whole load of cell sites across London.

On Tuesday it managed to break the whole data network for the majority of customers. Not just 3G but GPRS too. In fact the only thing they didn’t apparently break to do with data was iPhone public Wi-Fi access – but that’s thankfully a completely different kettle of fish.

The Register initially reported the problem was only affecting users in the London area, but as the day went on the problem crept across the rest of the UK, leaving owners of iPhones fretting and hunting a working Cloud Wi-Fi access point. The next day, O2 admitted it was a ‘misconfigured DHCP server’. Just the one? That’s a little careless, having a single point of failure and all. Or did they make a change to all of them simultaneously and break the whole damn lot?

So it’s now Friday. Data on O2 is apparently fixed – but now they’ve totally gone and broken roaming. Since about 10pm last night (Thursday), customers roaming in certain countries have experienced issues registering on foreign networks, making calls, using data, sending and receiving texts – in fact pretty much everything seems to have stopped working (with the exception of using your mobile as the world’s most expensive torch).

About an hour ago, O2 slid out this rather vague statement:

We are aware of an issue currently affecting customers who are roaming in certain countries.

We have identified the cause of the problem and are applying a fix which we hope will restore service for these affected customers as soon as possible.

We are very sorry for this loss of service. We will post further updates as soon as we have them.

Which is nice, but not exactly helpful. What’s the time to fix? If the claims that this problem started at 10pm last night, how come it took until gone 4pm this afternoon to make a statement? In a bizarre case of deja-vu from yesterday – when SpinVox took the best part of a day to comment on the whole ‘call centre sweat shop’ debacle – again we have a rather late terse statement. Admittedly this one says ‘we’re sorry’, but it’s still not much use to anyone who is reliant on their mobile whilst travelling and can’t get a peek out of it.

UPDATE: A little glance through Twitter reveals more problems today. Zeetha in Brighton can’t make or receive calls, ats2040 can’t make or receive calls nor send texts in Glasgow, and woolnough has had ‘no service’ on his iPhone for most of the day in Newbury. That’s three quite geographical diverse locations, and three rather large failures.

Are you having problems on O2? Pop a comment below – it probably won’t get it fixed any faster but it’s always good to whinge 🙂


Some more from O2:

There continue to be network issues affecting some customers roaming internationally and a small proportion of UK-based customers.

The issue relates to how call traffic is being routed and we are working as quickly as we can with our network technology suppliers to re-route traffic and restore services.

We will post further updates as soon as we have them and can only apologise again for the inconvenience this is causing to customers.

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