O2 crash reignites calls for in­quiry into ‘in­ter­nal roam­ing’

The Daily Telegraph - - News - By Katie Mor­ley CON­SUMER AF­FAIRS ED­I­TOR

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.

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