O2 is expected to receive a multimillion-pound compensation payment from technology group Ericsson over a software failure that cut off customers on Britain’s second largest mobile phone network.
Mark Evans, O2’s chief executive, will meet executives from the Swedish firm over the coming days to review what caused the outage and begin negotiations about how much the UK network can expect to be paid in damages.
The problems occurred on Thursday 6 and Friday 7 December, with customers reporting they could not use mobile data to access the internet.
Around 30 million people use the O2 network, including 25 million O2 subscribers and customers of Tesco Mobile and Sky Mobile. Business users range from gig economy workers delivering fast food orders for companies such as Deliveroo to the systems on board all 8,500 London buses,which send live location data back to the city’s transit authority.
A source close to the situation said: “Mark Evans will 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.”
It has been reported that the mobile firm might be in line to receive as much as £100m, although the company source said that the costs had yet to be fully assessed.
The problems are thought to have been caused by out-of-date software licences in Ericsson’s systems. O2 is believed to have been hit because it had recently implemented the latest version of the Swedish technology supplier’s systems, but some licences had expired, bringing down parts of the system. O2 did not comment on the Ericsson talks.
Last week Evans said: “I want to let our customers know how sorry I am for the impact our network data issue has had on them, and reassure them that our teams, together with Ericsson, are doing everything we can. We fully appreciate it’s been a poor experience and we are really sorry.”
Consumer experts have said that O2 customers will be able to claim for any out-of-pocket expenses that resulted from the outage.
Helen Dewdney, a consumer rights commentator wrote on her website, the Complaining Cow: “Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 you are entitled to services to be carried out with reasonable skill and care. It is irrelevant that the problem is caused by a third party problem. Your contract is with O2 and so therefore O2 is in breach of contract and you are entitled to redress.”
By way of apology to its users, O2 is to offer its pay-monthly and small and medium-sized business and mobile broadband customers a credit of two days’ worth of charges by the end of January.
Pay-as-you-go O2 customers will get a 10% credit when topping up in the new year. And pay-as-you-go mobile broadband customers will also get a 10% discount on a bolt-on purchase – which are additional call, text or data bundles that can be bought at any time.