O2's All-Day Outage Caused Havoc in Ways Many Didn't Expect

O2's All-Day Outage Caused Havoc in Ways Many Didn't Expect

Foto: Fotolia

When the U.K.’s second-biggest cell-phone network went down Thursday, it struck transit riders, workers in the gig economy, small businesses and the self-employed, according to Bloomberg.

Among the victims of O2’s widespread data outage were commuters hoping to use their smartphones to find when the next bus was due. The systems on board all 8,500 London buses, which send live location data back to the city’s transit authority and third-party mapping services, were knocked offline.

Information screens in the bus stations were unable to display real-time updates because the system relies on connectivity to O2’s data network. A spokesman for Transport for London said buses have backup radio communication, but this only assists operational purposes rather than providing live customer information.

Frustrated commuters couldn’t turn to any of the 11,500 bikes that form London’s public-bicycle service either: The terminals used to pay for the rental bikes rely on a connection to O2. Only holders of an annual pass were able to take out a bike, as this doesn’t need an internet connection to function.

It was a software failure that brought down O2’s services, as well as those of Tesco Mobile, Sky, GiffGaff and TalkTalk, which piggyback on the network. Downdetector U.K., a site that monitors network complaints, said customers began having issues around 4:45 a.m. on Thursday. Millions were unable to use their phones for most of the rest of the day.

However, by Friday, O2’s network had been restored. The company is preparing to bill its technology supplier Ericsson tens of millions of pounds, The Telegraph reported, as well as credit free air time and discounts to affected consumers.

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