O2 Blames iPhone Demand For Network Failures

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

O2 has apologised for the problems with its network in London and has blamed the increasing use of smartphones, such as the iPhone

The boss of O2 has apologised for its embarrassing network failures in London, and has admitted that it was caused by the bandwidth strain from the increasing use of smartphones.

Ronan Dunne told the Financial Times that he was disappointed with O2’s network performance in London since the summer. But he insisted that the operator was making good progress towards fixing the problems.

O2’s network has suffered numerous network difficulties in London during the second half of 2009. Dunne said O2’s network difficulties had been caused by an “explosion” of demand for data services on smartphones.

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“Where we haven’t met our own high standards then there’s no question, we apologise to customers for that fact,” Dunne told the FT. “But it would be wrong to say that O2 has failed its customers en masse.”

He added that “any short-term blip” in O2’s “network reputation” would be “more than addressed” by three solutions to the difficulties.

Firstly he said that O2 is working with its infrastructure supplier, Nokia Siemens Networks, on software modifications so that it can better manage the combination of voice and data traffic on its network. Secondly it is also installing an additional 200 mobile base stations in London to increase capacity. Thirdly it is liaising with handset manufacturers, including Apple and Research In Motion, to learn about applications that could place heavy demands on the network.

In November, O2 promised to spend hundred of millions of pounds overhauling its much-criticised mobile network in order to give it ‘significant headroom for mobile data’ and to meet the rising demand for mobile broadband.

And earlier this month a survey by UK mobile phone price comparison website, www.rightmobilephone.co.uk, warned of family friction this Christmas after it found that 77 percent of smartphone owners won’t get a proper break from work this Christmas.