More than 30 million customers of mobile providers including O2, Tesco Mobile and Sky Mobile have been unable to get online, with many also unable to make or receive phone calls, after a technical fault caused a UK-wide outage.
The problem hit O2 and also affected companies that use its network, including its subsidiary Giffgaff and Lycamobile. The blackout of 3G and 4G services, which prevented customers from getting online on their phones, began at about 4am on Thursday and was still unfixed more than 12 hours later.
O2, which has about 25 million UK customers, initially said voice calls were still working and advised people to seek out wifi if they needed to get online. “We’d encourage our customers to use wifi wherever they can and we apologise for the inconvenience caused,” a spokesman said.
However, in an update later on Thursday the company admitted what many customers had been complaining on social media about all day: that they also could not make or receive calls.
“As a result of this incident, we are experiencing a high demand on our network which means some customers may have issues making and receiving voice calls,” said a spokeswoman. “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.”
The company said the problem stemmed from a global software issue at a third-party supplier, understood to be Ericsson, that had also affected other mobile operators around the world.
“We’re aware that our customers are unable to use data this morning,” it said. “We believe other mobile operators around the world are also affected. Our technical teams are working with their teams to ensure this is fixed as quickly as possible.”
The outage has also affected services such as Transport for London’s live updates of bus arrival times at stops across the capital, which relies on O2’s network for data updates.
In October, O2 apologised for a major network outage affecting customers across the UK. The company said at the time that the issue was fixed within 40 minutes.
O2’s rivals including Vodafone, Three and EE have also suffered nationwide outages affecting customers in the past year. In 2012, O2 was at the centre of a major network outage when customers were not able to access services for 25 hours.