Dear oh dear. O2's mobile phone data network fell over once again on Saturday leaving millions of customers stranded without access to email, Internet or data services.
The blackout began in the early afternoon and was not fixed until late in the evening. Voice calling and SMS messaging wasn't affected. O2 was at least upfront about the problem, telling users on its main message that it was aware of the fact, but was unable to give any indication when the data network would return.
Despite this warning customers deluged the network with calls creating significant waiting times and laying into staff. I called up to get a feel for the problem and the situation was farcical with calls being emergency routed through to the first available agents, regardless of whether they were in the right department.
Of course errors do happen, but O2 has had a sordid time of things in recent months. Saturday was no one off, it was no less than the fourth time since July that the data service had collapsed. A sad fact for a network with exclusives on so many data centric smartphones (including the iPhone) and totally unacceptable for what is the nation's largest network for now.
I asked O2 what had caused the failure and why it had happened yet again, but was declined an explanation. Personally, I'd suggest O2's rapid customer growth in recent years hasn't been matched by equally rapid expansion of its network capacity. A viewpoint seemingly born out by Ofcom slamming O2's 3G coverage (pictured in comparison to 3) just last month. In its defence, O2 has inked a mast sharing deal with Vodafone, but the positive effects of that won't come into practice for some time yet.
In the words of the great Stan Lee: "With great power there must also come great responsibility".
In the words of Gordon Kelly: Get your act together!