O2 Admits East London Network Outage

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O2 customers are once again experiencing network difficulties, this time in East London and Essex

The issue of network reliability is once again in the limelight after O2 admitted it had a problem with network availability in areas of East London and Essex today.

According to O2’s status page, the problem began earlier this morning at 9.53am. “We’ve got a problem that means you can’t make calls, use the internet, or send/get emails the east London/Essex area,” it said.

An O2 spokesman confirmed to eWEEK Europe UK that its network in those areas went offline for roughly 50 minutes, but the problem is now fixed, as of 10.50am.

Official Statement

“At 10 o’clock this morning we identified a connectivity issue on our network which affected both 2G and 3G service in parts of East London, North London, Kent and Essex,” O2 told eWEEK Europe UK in an emailed statement.

“Some customers in these areas may have experienced difficulty in making or receiving mobile calls, texts or using data,” O2 said. “The issue was the result of planned work designed to ensure the robustness of the network following theft and vandalism at a site in East London last month.”

“Service was restored at 10.50am. We apologise to those customers affected and we continue to monitor service from the site,” it added.

Theft And Vandalism

The reference to theft and vandalism refers to the incident last month, when O2′s voice and data services in East London, North London, Kent and Sussex were hit by a significant outage.

To be fair to O2 that issue was beyond its control as it seems it was targeted by copper thieves, but many O2 customers felt that O2 should have had a disaster recovery plan in place. Matters were not helped when the operator refused to issue any compensation or bill discounts for its customers affected by that outage.

O2’s network has suffered other outages as well in the past, most notably back in December 2009, when it suffered a number of embarrassing network failures in London. The operator was forced to admit at that time that the crash was caused by the data strain from the increasing use of smartphones.

“The pressures we felt in London, where we see the highest concentration of smartphone users, occurred nearly 18 months ago. We acted quickly and deployed 40 new sites in London in December 2009 alone, with fantastic results,” O2 told eWEEK Europe UK in January, when it revealed that Nokia Siemens Networks was to undertake a three year modernisation project to upgrade O2′s mobile network in the south of England.

And of course O2 is not alone in having problems with its network.

Back in February Vodafone’s UK network was crippled by a break-in at one of its technical facilities, which affected millions of customers’ voice, data and text services.

Meanwhile O2 has joined other UK mobile operators including 3UK and Everything Everywhere in criticising Ofcom’s plans for the auction of 4G spectrum. It claimed that the method of selling off additional bandwidth to mobile operators is illegal under EU law.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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