O2 crash reignites calls for inquiry into ‘internal roaming’
MOBILE phone operators must allow “internal roaming” to stop customers being hit by data outages, an MP has said, as a major O2 data failure reignited calls for a Government inquiry.
As many as 32 million customers were hit by a software error that caused them to lose internet access and the ability to make and receive calls for most of Thursday.
O2 announced yesterday that it would “make it right” with affected customers by refunding them for lost service, but consumer and small business groups urged those who had lost out to claim additional compensation where it is due.
Last night Grant Shapps MP, chairman of the British Infrastructure Group, called for an urgent Government inquiry into whether phone companies should be able to use each other’s networks when theirs goes down.
He said: “We investigated whether companies could let customers of other firms use their networks if theirs isn’t working, and there were no real barriers to introducing it – it was just that they didn’t really fancy it. But as we have seen with O2’s service outage, it is not acceptable to have no backup. Ministers should order an immediate investigation into network sharing in emergencies, and operators should be on board as it would save them getting egg on their face.”
The group investigated the possibility of introducing the system back in 2016 to improve people’s phone coverage, but found a lack of willing among companies.
The cross-party group of MPS said that foreign visitors get better coverage, as they are not tied to any provider.
It published a report saying that a million customers had poor reception, naming 525 areas with non-existent coverage.
O2’s outage was caused by a software fault at Ericsson, which provides its data network. It cut users off from the internet, while others had issues with receiving calls and texts.