O2 likely to avoid fine for outage

Michael Carroll
13 Jul 2012

Analysts believe UK operator O2 should offer compensation to its customers for a 24 hour outage, but believe a regulatory fine for the loss of service is unlikely.

Canalys principal analyst Pete Cunningham told TelecomsEMEA.net the operator isn’t likely to face a fine from regulator Ofcom over the outage, which took down its 2G and 3G networks between Wednesday and Thursday.

“Our view is that it is unlikely that O2 will be fined for the loss of service, however we would expect it to offer its customers compensation on some form,” Cunningham says.

O2 has released few details about what caused the outage, however The Telegraph newspaper reports it was related to the way handsets register with the network, and affected the firm’s 2G and 3G networks, including data services and SMS. Customers of MVNOs Tesco Mobile and GiffGaff were also affected, it states.

The cellco said all services were restored by lunchtime on Thursday in a service update and advised customers still experiencing problems to “turn their phone off and on again,” before apologizing for the problem.

Informa Telecoms and Media research analyst Francesco Radicati says the outage raises serious questions regarding O2’s ability to cope with a surge in user numbers due when the Olympic Games open in London later this month. He also questions the way O2 handled customer communication during the outage. “Although O2 was responsive on Twitter and included updates of the status of the solution to the problem on its homepage, it was not enough to deal with the bad experiences and frustration its customers were experiencing.”

The outage happened as regulators in Hong Kong fined local operator SmarTone HK$130,000 ($16,800) for a six hour outage in April.

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