UPDATE: O2 announced early this morning that network problems has been resolved.
UK smartphone users have been without data services by the millions after technical problems hit the O2 network.
Over 30 million mobile customers could not use 3G or 4G services
Customers of Sky, Tesco, Giffgaff and Lycamobile networks also experienced issues as O2 provides services for these companies.
Problems were originally detected at 4am on Thursday according to the website DownDetector. O2 announced that there were issues at 07:00 GMT on Twitter.
In order to reassure some of its 25 million customers, O2 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.
“We’d encourage our customers to use wi-fi wherever they can and we apologise for the inconvenience caused.”
Ericsson, which makes equipment for mobile networks said that it was working to solve the issue.
Japan’s Y!Mobile network also experienced massive network problems.
The mobile data outage also impacted Transport for London’s live bus arrival update times at bus stops throughout the city. The iBus system, which is used to track the locations of London’s buses is serviced by O2’s network.
According to The Register a TfL spokesperson said: “We’re sorry that customers are unable to use our Countdown screens at bus stops for live travel information. This is a result of a nationwide O2 data outage. We are working with our service provider to resolve this as soon as possible.”
Tom Morrod at market research firm IHS Markit said data was increasingly important to consumers, with half of UK mobile users prioritising internet connectivity above calls and texts.
HIS Markit, a market research firm, has found that half of UK customers with mobile phones prioritise internet connectivity over calls and texts. Tom Morrod, said on behalf of the firm:
“As well as the inconvenience to consumers and the associated frustration, having a major network out of action creates productivity challenges for businesses. Many businesses will have employees commuting or out in the field that have lost work time today,” he said.
This is not the first time that O2 has experienced severe mobile data outages. In 2012 the network experienced a 25 hour outage, with a shorter 40 minute outage occurring in October this year, affecting customers across the UK.
Mobile network supplier Ericsson, in communications with Financial Times, confirmed that it had identified “certain nodes in the core network” and was investigating what had caused the problem.
Börje Ekholm, president and chief executive of the Swedish company, said: “The faulty software that has caused these issues is being decommissioned and we apologise not only to our customers but also to their customers.
“We will work hard to ensure that our customers can limit the impact and restore their services as soon as possible.”
Customers of Vodafone, Three and EE – O2’s rival firms – have also experied mobile data outages in the past year.