O2 kicks out Ericsson after network failure

18 Oct

After being hit by a second network outage in four months, O2 has pointed the finger at Ericsson and is to spend £10m decommissioning equipment installed by the Swedish company.

The mobile operator was forced to apologise after millions of customers were affected on Friday. An estimated 10% of the operator’s 23 million UK subscribers, many of them in London, were unable to use the internet, or make or receive calls and text messages from lunchtime, with service restored by the end of Friday, although problems for some users persisted over the weekend.

The incident followed a three-day blackout for 7 million customers in July, and O2 is blaming its recently installed Centralised User Database, which left some handsets shut out of the network.

The outage was caused by the transition of users onto this database, which is supposed to consolidate customer records and provide a single point of access, but teething problems meant it was also prone to not recognising groups of users, effectively barring them from the network.

The database will now be removed, with O2 relying instead on older equipment. It was installed by Ericsson, to which O2 has been outsourcing the management of parts of its network since 2009.

“We are removing the Central User Database provided by one of our suppliers, which has suffered two different faults in the last few months,” O2 chief operating officer Derek McManus said on the company’s blog . “While we recognise that we have dented the confidence and trust of some of our customers, I hope this plan will demonstrate our commitment to rebuilding that trust.”

The decommissioning will cost £10m, in addition to the £1.5m a day O2 currently invests in improving its coverage and network speed. The operator will not be compensating customers for the latest outage as it did during the summer, when subscribers were given a 10% discount on their July bill.


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