O2’s mo­bile melt­down spelled doom – but turned into a dream

The Sunday Telegraph - - Zoe Strimpel -

Iwas on the Tube on Thurs­day, fu­ri­ously typ­ing out si­mul­ta­ne­ous mes­sages for Face­book Mes­sen­ger, email and What­sApp, nab­bing mo­ments of net­work cov­er­age be­tween sta­tions to press “send”. When I emerged at Bar­bican to run an er­rand, I looked ex­pec­tantly at my phone to send all the mes­sages that I’d cued up since the last sta­tion.

But then noth­ing. Like most of the mil­lions of peo­ple af­fected by the 02 out­age last week, I im­me­di­ately as­sumed that my data – the whole point of hav­ing a smart­phone – would re­turn any minute. As I walked, how­ever, zilch.

I turned my phone off and on. Noth­ing. I be­gan to have an in­ner tantrum. Where was my data? A sense of doom im­me­di­ately de­scended.

Was there some­thing badly wrong with my phone? It wasn’t until a bit later that I saw there was a world­wide glitch, and breathed a sigh of re­lief. Noth­ing to do but wait for the out­age to be fixed. And then the day be­came rather won­der­ful. I had to read or write or stare out the win­dow while on trains and Tubes, and walk with­out Googling things. It was re­lax­ing.

That evening I had to go to an un­fa­mil­iar Hert­ford­shire town for an ap­point­ment. I was early so de­cided to go into Costa Cof­fee and use the Wi-Fi in there to check where I was

meant to be go­ing. But be­cause ev­ery café in town, in­clud­ing Costa, seemed to use the O2 net­work there was no con­nec­tiv­ity to be had.

The boy work­ing at Costa of­fered, in the ab­sence of my map app, to sim­ply write out in­struc­tions for the 25-minute walk. He knew the route per­fectly, and more than that was con­sid­er­ate of the fact that I was walk­ing in the dark in a strange town.

In eight num­bered in­struc­tions, writ­ten in beau­ti­ful script, he pro­vided me with all the help­ful land­marks and guid­ance that I could have hoped for – and I man­aged to cross all the foot­bridges, bear right in all the right places, and take the “windy” res­i­den­tial lane lead­ing to my des­ti­na­tion all with­out a sin­gle hitch. It was the most fun I’ve had in a while.

Not only did it feel like a trea­sure hunt, it made me feel full of warmth to­ward the boy and a surge of op­ti­mism about my fel­low man.

This one, at any rate, was very de­cent and, just as cheer­ing, had the abil­ity to hand write and spell, both of which I had as­sumed were dy­ing arts in the age of phones.

By Fri­day morn­ing, it was a re­turn to busi­ness as usual – but not, on my part any­way, with­out some re­gret.

New friends: al­ter­na­tives to smart­phone tech­nol­ogy do ex­ist

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