/ Technology

Does O2 owe you over network outage?

Thousands of O2 customers have been suffering from a service blackout since yesterday. Angry tweets have been pouring into the Which? Twitter accounts – should O2 do more than just restore coverage?

Some are suggesting that O2 should offer compensation, but let’s step back a bit – what’s actually happened?

O2’s network crashed yesterday for ‘thousands’ of its 23 million customers. O2 customers weren’t the only ones suffering – GiffGaff and Tesco Mobile (which piggyback on O2’s network) customers suffered the blackout too.

I’m with GiffGaff and had no trouble with mobile coverage last night, but this morning I had nothing – the world was quiet to me. Problems also started this morning for Twitter user Philippa Waddell (@pilla_uk), who told us:

‘Had full service all day yesterday despite problems reported by others. Today woken up with no service! Two hours in and nothing!’

Outraged tweets pour in to @WhichConvo

O2 has said its doing everything in its power to get the service up and running again, having ‘deployed all possible resources’ and ‘working through the night to restore service as soon as possible’. But the problem is still persisting for many. Chris Coney (@chrisconey) told us:

‘Seems to be getting worse I had signal when I went too bed at 1am, now whole family have lost it. Glorified iPod at present.’

Last night Pete Baggett (@elektromote) tweeted:

‘I’ve had no service since 15:30. If my number’s dialled it comes up as invalid.’

O2 has said that its 2G network is back up and running, with the suggestion that if you turn off your 3G or reset your phone you should be able to access 2G for calls and texts. This interim fix has worked for some of our Twitter followers, but others are still struggling to get their phone back up and running.

I tried everything I could think of, but still couldn’t access any signal, until Philip Wheeler (@PhilWheeler09) shared this tip for Android phones: ‘Go to Settings> Wireless and Networks > Mobile Networks > Network Mode > GSM Only’. Now everything’s fine and dandy, apart from 3G data, which O2 hopes to get fixed later today.

Should O2 offer compensation?

So, should O2 offer compensation for all the trouble caused? Kerry Goding ‏told us that the blackout had affected her husband’s business:


O2’s terms and conditions are likely to cover the company for service outages, especially if it does everything in its power to get the problem fixed in a reasonable amount of time. Until we know more about what has caused the problems we don’t know if the issues will represent a breach of contract. In the meantime, keep a track of any costs incurred from the outage, such as paying for access to a wi-fi hotspot, as these could potentially help you in a future claim.

However, at Which? we want to see O2 offer compensation to those who have been hugely inconvenienced by this outage and have been paying for a service they cannot use.

[UPDATE 18/07/12] – O2, GiffGaff and Tesco Mobile have announced how they’re going to compensate those affected.

O2 and Tesco Mobile have identified the customers who were directly affected and will offer pay monthly customers 10% off their September bill and Pay & Go customers 10% off their first September top-up. All O2 customers (not Tesco Mobile) will also be offered a £10 O2 voucher. All GiffGaff customers, whether they’re affected or not, will be offered 10% off top-up credit, or if they buy a ‘goodbag’ they’ll get the 10% extra as credit to spend next time.


I had problems with my network from about 5.30pm yesterday. My iPhone 3 is actually pretty old, so I thought that it had finally died a death – did a bit of research and seemed like the antenna had become unattached. Sent out various emails telling people as much, and prepared myself for a £500 set back in the Apple store today.

Was therefore mighty relieved to hear it was an O2 issue! Tip for those still having problems – turn your phone and then 3G off and then on again. Fixed the network problem for me.


I agree that O2 should have a process for compensating for loss of service, I can’t imagine how they would calculate how much to pay people back though.
Aside from that, I’m not too upset by the downtime. O2 in my opinion is the best network out there, these kind of problems are extremely rare. All systems crash for one reason or another from time to time. I can’t recall an outage like this from O2 before, so I’d say they’ve done pretty well.


O2 says the network should be up and running again now:

‘Our tests now show that all our 2G and 3G services have been fully restored for affected customers. If any customers are still having problems we recommend they turn their phone off and on again.’

GiffGaff is working for me…


Is it the end of the world if a mobile phone service breaks down occasionally? Most of us are accustomed to being out of network coverage occasionally, anyway.

I assume that emergency calls are still possible, via another network.

S Barua says:
12 July 2012

My network was gone from 3.45pm to 8am (this morning) and from 8am to 10 am I had signals come and go!

I did not get calls from my family outside UK, and I was waiting for a very important message. If anyone thinks “Most of us are accustomed to being out of network coverage occasionally, anyway.” I disagree, I have never been out of network converge for 18 hours!!!!!!!


S Barua

I suppose the the highlands of Scotland is the most obvious area where you will find plenty of places with no network coverage, but visit places in the middle of nowhere in England and you will have the same problem. I’ve got PAYG SIM cards on the various networks to help try to keep in touch. Mine are cheap phones, but friends with posh phones have no more success.

This is rather off-topic, of course.


I cannot be compensated for the Angst caused by being unable to contact my daughter, we did not know of the O2 outage, we speak to her at least once daily. By 10pm last night no one had heard from her and attempts to call were met with silence or a buzzing tone. My son [the last time we were unable to contact someone like this, he & went round and found them lying in a coma covered in blood, and got there just in time to save their life] panicked grabbed the wife, they jumped in his little sports car and shot round to see if she was OK, fortunately the only damage was to his car as he scraped over the multitude of road humps.
My daughter called from her house phone about 5 mins before they arrived telling me about the outage, and that she had just arrived home.
But those few moments for a worrywart like me were sheer hell.

I think there is a lesson here, it’s about putting all your eggs in one basket, yesterday Natwest etc… today O2, we put everything into electronic systems and remove all back ups, so when they fail we in effect cripple ourselves, I was amused by tales of people whose phones stopped working, then wondering why they couldn’t phone in a complaint 🙂

As for compensation I think the warning we have just had [if taken on board] is much needed, forget compo’ and work out how you are going to survive as our systems get ever more complex and prone to failure.


There does seem to be a place for mobile phones that are capable of working on different networks using the same phone number. That would not only cope with network problems but the more common problem of poor network coverage. I’m sure the networks could sort out the financial implications without the customer getting involved.