The O2 network across the United Kingdom is down, affecting millions of mobile phone users. People took to Twitter and other platforms to complain that 4G data had stopped working, making it difficult for them to get online. The O2 network outage has also affected mobile payment services such as Google Pay and Apple Pay. Some customers said they had problems accessing calls and texts. Others said losing coverage on O2 had become a frequent and regular problem. The service provider’s network had suffered another outage in October.
O2, part of Telefonica, is the second largest carrier in the United Kingdom after EE. The carrier said customers should still be able to make calls and send texts because the problem was with 4G data connections rather than with its main network. Affected customers were unable to establish any kind of data connection on their handsets. Turning off the phone and then back on doesn’t help either.
We are aware our customers are unable to use data this morning. Our technical teams are working on the issue with high priority. We are really sorry and working as hard and as fast as we can to fix this. Please keep an eye on our status checker: https://t.co/O8fb26fNIv
— O2 in the UK (@O2) December 6, 2018
O2’s Twitter account is having a busy day as it is bombarded with complaints about the network outage. The company told users that it was aware of the issue, and its engineers were already working on a fix. O2 was “terribly sorry” for any problems caused. The carrier said on its status page, “The network issue we are currently experiencing remains a top priority for us and we are working as quickly as possible to fix the issues.”
According to DownDetector, which sources reports of network problems, O2 customers started reporting problems with the network at around 4:50 AM local time on Thursday. The reports of network outage have emerged from across the UK including mass reports from London, Manchester, Birmingham, Belfast, and Glasgow. Millions of people rely on smartphone maps to get around the city. You should use WiFi and be prepared before heading out because there is no word yet on when the problem will be fixed.
Ericsson’s software is said to be causing the O2 network outage
O2 said in a tweet that one of its third-party suppliers had “identified a software issue with their system.” The carrier’s network was hit by a similar downtime in October and multiple outages in 2012. In the past instances, Ericsson’s hardware and software infrastructure was blamed for outages. O2 continues to rely on Ericsson for its 4G services. O2 didn’t mention which third-party supplier is at the heart of the current network outage, but experts believe an issue with Ericsson’s software is causing the problem.
Outage Update: One of our 3rd party suppliers has identified a software issue in their system. Our technical teams are working extremely hard to resolve this. We’d encourage you to use Wi-Fi wherever you can and we are really sorry.
— O2 in the UK (@O2) December 6, 2018
Industry sources told The Telegraph that a problem with Ericsson has caused the outage. The issue has affected O2 as well as other carriers that use Ericsson’s telecom infrastructure. Japan’s SoftBank has also witnessed a sudden jump in outage reports. Ericsson is a network infrastructure provider that supplies dozens of carriers with 4G equipment. An Ericsson spokesperson confirmed that it was aware of the issue, and was working on a fix.
O2 has nearly 22 million customers in the UK. The carrier supplies network to Giffgaff, Tesco, Lycamobile, Sky, and other companies as well. About 32 million people rely on its network coverage. Tesco, Sky Mobile, and others have also complained that the network was down. It means the data blackout is affecting tens of millions of customers across the country. Thousands of Uber drivers said they were missing out on trips due to the O2 network outage.
The London Bus electronic timetables have also been affected. Transport for London uses O2 SIM cards in its buses to transmit data to bus stops ahead, which show the arrival time of a given bus. The system is not working now. Here’s what Transport for London said in a tweet:
Countdown Systems – there are reports that live bus updates to our Countdown Systems has gone down. The company that updates the data to our network of Countdown Systems is currently experiencing difficulties in providing this service. This issue is being investigated.
— TfL Bus Alerts (@TfLBusAlerts) December 6, 2018
The service is still down as of this writing. If you are an O2 customer, you can check the network status here.