O2 Phone Boss 'Embarrassed' By Blackout
The boss of mobile phone firm O2 has told Sky News he is "embarrassed" by a network fault that affected a third of its customers.
The company, which has 23 million UK subscribers, had been struggling to restore coverage since Wednesday afternoon.
O2's UK chief executive, Ronan Dunne, admitted that more than seven million people may have been affected by the outage, which left them unable to make calls, send text messages or email.
He told Sky News: "The first thing I would like to do is apologise to our customers."
"A piece of our network hardware which manages the registration of handsets stopped working at about 1pm yesterday and as a result progressively over the course of the afternoon more and more customers lost connection with the network."
Asked if he was embarrassed by the system blackout, he told Kay Burley: "Yes I am. I am a customer myself."
The company restored service for 2G users, enabling calls, text and slow web surfing on Thursday morning, the more advanced 3G network was back up by early afternoon.
In a statement posted on its website, O2 said: "If any customers are still having problems we recommend they turn their phone off and on again.
"Once again, we are sorry."
The fault left many customers feeling cut off and frustrated, but perhaps none more so than Karen Brett, who at 39 weeks pregnant had just gone into labour.
She said: I've just felt really uncomfortable and really panicky about it, because if I can't get to hospital and I'm in full labour, I'll be stuck at home and I'll probably have to give birth at home."
Others emailed in to describe the difficulties they were facing.
Tom Bubb wrote: "I have had no signal since Wednesday at 1pm, my nan was rushed into hospital and was given 24 hours to live and half of my family wasn't aware of this because of the network situation, my own mum didn't know my nan was about to pass away!"
Helen Leen emailed: "I rely heavily on my mobile as I have a child with a very severe brain disorder and need to be contactable at all times."
"I am now going to have to buy a sim from another provider and have to let all his support system know... really upset and worried as at present I have no contact."
Part of the problem was a perceived lack of information from O2, with customers being told overnight that the company was "unable to confirm any timescales" for service to be restored.
Many of those who could get online took to social networking sites to vent their frustration:
:: @Jade_Rose04: "What did one O2 customer say to the other? Nothing"
:: @mandakal: Thanks o2 for leaving me stranded in a freezing station #nosignal to call my lift. Gonna take alot of priority freebies to make up for this!
:: @goddess grumpy: Woohoo O2 is back at last. Don't know how long for. Looking for a new network unless we get compensation or an apology which is doubtful.
:: @finding_scotty: No O2 you have not fixed the problem and my phone does not work. Am buying a few cups and lots of string for today...
:: Austin Harris: Train line flooded last night and O2 was broken (and still is). Like life in the dark ages, had to use a phone box.
Luke Foord-Kelcey, a risk specialist at JLT Group, said O2's response would be critical to their brand reputation.
He explained: "Reputation takes a lifetime to build and, in the days of Twitter and Facebook and social networking, only a few minutes to flatten.
"If I look at the recent troubles that have happened at the Royal Bank of Scotland, or at O2 in the last couple of days - is anyone really going to change their bank account or their mobile service provider?
"I couldn't tell you, but what I would predict is that I doubt any of their competitors will be running an advertising campaign off the back of this, because they know that this could well happen to them too."
O2 is the UK's second largest mobile network and also provides coverage for Tesco Mobile and GiffGaff.
The company said there is no link between this service disruption and another in June, when thousands of customers were unable to send texts for a day.
In 2010, O2 had to apologise for revealing customers' numbers to websites they had visited on their smartphones.
Paddy Smith, from Stuff magazine, told Sky: "Any major event like this will do some damage to the network and their customers will feel it very, very keenly.
"I have no doubt that they will look elsewhere but let's not forget that a lot of people are locked into long contracts that they cannot get out of without paying a lot of money."
what do you think?
Amelia Princess Hall
Soooooo glad with orange!!!was thinking joining o2 next year when my contract runs out now maybe not!!!
Bet your loving this orange? go on lap it up. How about you sort out your signal problems round my home town before you start commenting on rival companies problems!
I_d ring em up and complain if it was my network
I cant make a single phone call! Otherwise i'd be going hell!
What did one o2 customer say to the other? Nothing! C:
Has nobody heard of a payphone. They tend to have them in stations and other public places. I despair sometimes that it seems people are unable to.us common sense or think gore themselves. Everybody 'owes' them.
well said Gary, some people need to open their eyes and see whats around them.
The problem is that today most people are on mobile phones. No one keeps a written telephone list anymore all the contacts are stored in the mobile phone. Trying to use a payphone is just not an option. I know two numbers one is my husband the other my mothers. My husbands is a mobile number and to call it from a payphone costs a fortune. It's really not a case of common sense. Unfortunatley people have become dependent on technology. I would love to use the old payphone at times like these but its just not possible as all the people I want to contact would be on mobile phones. These companies should be thinking long and hard about ways to improve the services that they offer. They should also be a lot cheaper. When things go wrong there is little the customer can do other that put up and shut up.
The contacts are stored on the phone , not on the network so even when you've got no signal, you can still look up a phone number and dial it off a landline!!
Yes Andy I know but the cost of callng from a payphone is ridiculous. Plus most people that I want to call would be on the mobile network that was down anyway. Now do you see the problem. Its not just a case of common sense as I said.
Have you never heard of an address book where you can WRITE your contact no's in Jackie? I know loads of people that keep written lists but then, they aren't reliant on technology as we all know it can (and does) go wrong.
The trouble is they are more interested in making profits than updating equipment you will never find the truth out about what went wrong theywill come up with some lame excuse
you have to laugh at these people. remember the time before mobile phones or indeed times when public phone boxes were few people just got on with things and managed. these whinging crybaby people are pathetic.
Well said. removing a phone for some is worse than removing a limb, they are completely lost
I don't know what the problem is, my O2 phone won't shut up.
This is not the first time with O2, happened about 10 weeks ago, but must have been on a smaller scale. I waited 2 weeks for it to come back on, was going to buy a new phone as they said it was that. Even half the staff don't have a clue.
Have you tried the old "turn it off and on again" trick, this helped mine re-register on the network. Sorry if I'm teaching my granny to suck eggs.
Is it lack of investment in network?
Your absolutely right our current networks are at full stretch with calls,texts,3g,bbm,they have simply ran out of bandwidth.one of the big providers was going to crumble and it happens to of been 02.I'm sure people are frustrated but things will only get worst once 4g is running the networks need major investment otherwise events like this will be commonplace
Windows Live User
What did the tweeters do a few years ago when there were no mobiles? One was stuck waiting for a lift home because she couldnt ring her hubby. Surely she had other options available? such as bus taxi walk landline phones This means if we are attacked and they hit the mobiles first we are knac. kered doesnt it?
O2 is a Spanish firm and if your phone does noy work then thet still charge you. I used my phone in Bangkok this year for a 45 second call to a mate in Samui and they charged me £3.10. Sometimes my bill is about £60 calling an 0845 no. O2 is as bad as Orange because they were sold to Spain. 90% of british car makers are foreigners and they say that now 90% of offices in The City of London are owned by foreigners. This Government is as bad as Labour.
Stop blaming governments for business decisions you fool!
Does anyone else suspect hackers? - too many security systems rely on such networks too relay emergency data and alerts. Knock this system out and you can help yourselves to quite a lot? Just a thought..... been quite a few technology failures recently (banks?.... Blackberrys).
it's ridiculous people are over reacting like this. o2 is a reliable network. it very very rarely fails. o2 has admitted it was there fault, apologised and have rectified the problem strait away. to move to another provider because of this is completely daft. if people are that worried about another freak outage, carry a spare pay as you go mobile "just encase"! WE, society ARE far to reliant on modern technology....
carry a spare pay as you go mobile "just encase"! On O2??? LOL
At least Ronan Dunne is embarrassed about it,something our politicians would do well to learn instead of blaming everyone else. Don't worry Ronan I'm sticking with O2