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Mark Evans, CEO of O2 parent Telefonica UK, is expected to raise the subject of damages with supplier Ericsson at a meeting this week, after the Sweden-based firm’s failure to update expired software certificates on core network equipment led to more than 20 million O2 subscribers being left without 4G data services, according to reports.
The day-long outage began in the early hours of Thursday 6 December, affecting data services on O2’s 4G network. Although the 3G network was back up and running by the evening, full service was not restored until almost 24 hours later.
Ericsson was quick to identify the root cause of the network failure as an expired certificate affecting two specific versions of its Serving GPRS Support Node - Mobility Management Entity (SGSN-MME) in use at O2, and has already issued a public apology both to O2 and its customers.
Sources with knowledge of the developing situation told The Guardian that Evans would “certainly be meeting Ericsson this week for a full review and audit on both sides looking at the Ericsson software and how it was managed – naturally, included in the conversation will be the subject of damages”.
The mobile operator has already set out details of how it proposes to compensate customers for the outage. Pay-monthly customers, SMB customers and mobile broadband customers will each be credited with two days of monthly airtime subscription charges by the end of January; pay-as-you-go customers will receive a 10% credit towards a top-up in the new year; and pay-as-you-go mobile broadband customers will receive a 10% discount on a bolt-on purchase in the new year.
O2 has not yet set out details of how, or if, major enterprise customers, including the likes of TfL – which saw systems running its live bus information screens go down because of the outage – will receive any recompense, although many such organisations will have insurance policies to cover this sort of event.
“It’s right that O2 compensates its customers for the frustrating network failure suffered by millions of customers,” said Alex Neill, managing director of home products and services at consumer advocacy organisation Which?. “Anyone who suffered out-of-pocket expenses should make a claim to their mobile provider.
“In addition, O2 needs to give its customers reassurances that it is taking measures to stop this from happening again. Connectivity is now such an integral part of our lives, it is time for the regulator to consider whether it should introduce automatic compensation for the inconvenience caused by severe outages.”