The data network of BT subsidiary EE, the UK’s largest mobile network provider, was downed by a “technical issue” on Tuesday morning, an outage that lasted around three hours and affected users across the UK.
While the lengthy outage is an annoyance for commuters, EE said such problems don’t affect the data network’s planned use as the backbone for emergency services communications.
Some roaming abroad, including users attending the Mobile World Congress expo in Barcelona, also reported data access had suddenly cut out.
The issues were first reported around 7 a.m., with reports peaking at around 9 a.m., according to Down Detector.
Users from across the UK reported issues, with the areas reportedly affected including London, Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow.
Users in Amsterdam and Barcelona also said they were affected.
“My @EE SIM can’t access data, at all,” wrote a Twitter user attending MWC.
A user in the Netherlands reported on Twitter that data roaming had cut out around 3 a.m. local time, or 2 a.m. GMT.
At around 10 a.m. EE confirmed it had fixed a “technical issue”.
“All services are now being restored for our customers and should be back to normal soon,” the company said on its Twitter account.
Voice and text messaging services weren’t affected, EE said.
On its Facebook page, EE advised users to switch their phones on and off or to toggle airplane mode to reconnect to data services.
The outage occurred days after the Home Office advised the House of Commons’ Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the first live prioritisation tests of a new communications network for emergency responders that’s planned to run on EE’s 4G network.
The delayed Emergency Services Network (ESN), planned as the successor to the current TETRA-based Airwave scheme, has been called “high risk” by the National Audit Office (NAO) due to its reliance on technology never used elsewhere by an emergency services organisation.
But EE said outages to consumer services of the kind that occurred on Tuesday would have “no impact” on ESN.
“ESN runs on a completely separate core, there would have been no impact on emergency services users,” EE said in a statement provided to Silicon UK.
The Home Office has said the use of an existing 4G network will mean substantial savings to the public.
EE operates Europe’s largest 4G network.
This article has been updated to add comments from EE.
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