O2 and Ericsson to work out compensation over UK data outage

10 Dec 2018

Image: © Peter Fleming/Stock.adobe.com

Mobile network O2 is set to bill Ericsson for the temporary collapse of its data network.

Last Thursday (6 December), O2 smartphone users in the UK were left unable to use their mobile phone data for the day.

While O2 said voice calls and texts were not affected, some users reported issues with these elements. As well as disruption for individual consumers, many of O2’s business customers were also hampered by the outage.

Major network, major outage

O2, which is owned by Spain’s Telefónica, has the second largest network in the UK after EE, which is part of BT. The network has 25m users and also provides services for the Lycamobile, Sky, Tesco and Giffgaff networks, which together serve another 7m users.

CEO of O2, Mark Evans, is set to be meeting with Ericsson this week to conduct a full review and audit of the incident on both sides.

According to a report from The Telegraph, O2 could be in line to receive as much as £100m, although a spokesperson for the company said that costs had yet to be completely examined.

A software issue

According to O2 supplier Ericsson, expired software certification led to the countrywide issue. The network had recently installed the latest version of the Swedish firm’s systems, but out-of-date licences crippled O2’s network.

Ericsson president, Börje Ekholm, said that the company was carrying out “a complete and comprehensive root cause analysis”. To get more technical, Ericsson stated that “an issue in certain nodes in the core network resulting in network disturbances for a limited number of customers in multiple countries using two specific software versions of the SGSN-MME (Serving GPRS Support Node – Mobility Management Entity)” caused the outage. Ekholm added that the software that caused the problem is in the process of being decommissioned.

O2 offers compensation

O2 said it would be compensating customers for the day of disruption. Monthly subscribers will be refunded the cost of two days’ service by the end of January and pay-as-you-go users will receive 10pc extra when they top up their phone in the new year, or 10pc off when they purchase data for their mobile broadband devices.

At the time of the incident, Evans said:  “I want to let our customers know how sorry I am for the impact our network data issue has had on them, and reassure them that our teams, together with Ericsson, are doing everything we can. We fully appreciate it’s been a poor experience and we are really sorry.”

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects