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Ofcom Probe O2 UK Over December 2018 Network Outage

Friday, February 22nd, 2019 (11:28 am) - Score 2,181
o2 uk mobile sim

The national telecoms regulator, Ofcom, has confirmed that they’re probing mobile operator O2 (Telefonica UK) over a network outage that occurred on 6th December 2018.

Under section 105A(4) of the Communications Act 2003, such operators are required to “take all appropriate steps to protect, so far as possible, the availability of the provider’s public electronic communications network” (essential for ensuring that customers can access the emergency services etc.).

Over the past few years a number of operators have been fined and forced to make changes following network outages. For example, in 2017 Three UK was fined £1,890,000 after its network was temporarily unable to provide with access to the emergency services (here) and KCOM was fined £900,000 for a similar issue (here).

At this stage Ofcom are merely probing O2 to see if the operator kept within the rules during their recent outage (details). The regulator will continue to gather evidence until May 2019 and it might be toward the end of the year before we learn the outcome.

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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4 Responses
  1. Avatar Michael V

    But the outage was down to Ericsson. Software issue that affected multiple countries.
    Outages happen, we’ve all experienced them. What annoys me is seeing customers have a moan on social media. It happens! Slamming a MNO with a fine is not the way to deal with it. That money could go towards building a new cell site.

    • More often than not Ofcom will only fine an operator if they find that they failed to implement a reasonable backup / alternative or temporary remedy. The changes they’ve required other operators to make in the past have helped to make them more resilient to such outages, so it’s not as simple as just imposing a fine.

  2. Avatar George Lloyd

    This is a bit one sided. What happens when your land line goes down it could be weeks before it’s fixed? BT don’t have to provide alternative access to emergence services.

    • Avatar Olly

      Not comparable. A landline cut or fault will affect one or two customers, perhaps several hundred if a main copper trunk was impeded. More than 80% of residential calls are made using mobiles nowadays (see Ofcom studies), and while mobiles are common not everyone has use or requirement of a landline. During this large scale MNO outage, access to 999 and other emergency services was severed, and so any o2 customer requiring urgent medical care could not reach it without using a landline or alternate network.

      As Mark mentions, it’s not about Ofcom waving red cards and slapping fines. Though Ofcom’s duty is to govern, they cannot do so without advising. If Ofcom find that o2 have missed or not properly implemented enough redundancies and failovers then Ofcom will offer help and advice.

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