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By: MarkJ - 20 August, 2010 (6:42 AM)
orange_logo.gifCustomers of Orange UK's Mobile Broadband services have reportedly been suffering from serious connectivity problems since the middle of this week, with many being forced to fall back from 3G connections to use the older and significantly slower 2G GPRS data/internet access instead. In some cases even that hasn't worked.

To make matters worse Orange has also been forced to admit, shockingly so, that it has no scheduled fix for the problems. This suggests that the outage may be the result of a more complicated and fundamental failure, although the operators general statement gives nothing away.

Orange UK Network Status Statement

"We can confirm that some Orange mobile customers across the UK maybe experiencing reduced data access. We are trying to resolve this issue as a matter of priority and would like to apologise to customers for any inconvenience caused."

The situation, which is having an especially serious impact upon roaming UK business customers, is a huge problem for such a large mobile operator and one that has in the recent past tried and failed to claim that its "3G network covers more people in the UK than any other operator". Not if it doesn't work.

In June the UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) upheld a complaint by rival Three (3) against the above claim (here), adding, "because Orange had not shown that the population coverage data they had supplied for their competitors networks was collected and reported on the same basis as their own, we considered that the claim "covers more people in the UK than any other operator" had not been substantiated. We concluded that the ad was likely to mislead."

It's not hard to find customers who claim to have been suffering problems with Orange's mobile data services for considerably longer than just a few days. However this is not unexpected for such a large operator and it is thus difficult to discern whether a new trend exists or not.

Back in May Orange UK (France Telecom) and T-Mobile UK (Deutsche Telekom) reached an important merger milestone by agreeing to a joint, and rather unusual, new company name - Everything Everywhere (here). We still think T-Orange was better.

At some point this means that the groups respective mobile engineers will need to get both network infrastructures working together, while cutting out any excess masts and base stations to save money. However this is likely to be a long process and similar work on other networks has not in the past interfered with data services, at least not like today's news.

UPDATE 11:59am

Latest update.

Orange Statement No.2

"Further to some data access problems witnessed on our network yesterday, we can confirm that normal service has been fully restored.

The outage was caused by an unusual software issue, which combined with a separate and localised hardware failure, both happening at the same time. This affected a small number of APNs and meant that some, but not all, of our mobile data customers had problems accessing the mobile Internet.

We'll continue to monitor network performance closely, and would like to apologise once again for any inconvenience caused."

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