back to article EE fails to apologise for HUGE T-Mobile outage that hit Brits on Friday

Many T-Mobile customers in the UK were without access to the EE-owned network on Friday, after the service went titsup due to a "broken fibre cable". EE said this morning that its engineers had worked overnight to get the network back up and running, but it surprisingly didn't apologise for the major disruption to its service …

  1. Carl Thomas

    Great to see such a resilient network in place that a single fibre break can have such widespread consequences.

  2. keithpeter
    Windows

    "...to migrate data from the broken fibre to a new cable that was installed near our switch site in West London"

    Do you think they might mean 'to direct the flow of data from the broken fibre optic cable to a new cable". Unless they store data in cables.

    Was the cable broken by some chap with a visibility jacket and a pneumatic drill by any chance?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      not surprising had a network fault for 2 years now where content lock applies and removes itself throughout the month last excuse they gave..........? i hadnt paid my bill on time! tech support it seems dont know how a mobile network actually works!

      1. Phil W

        The content lock is bizarre. In my case when it's set to off it's actually on and vice versa.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Was the cable broken by some chap with a visibility jacket and a pneumatic drill by any chance?"

      More likely some jobsworth from GCHQ, tapping in to hoover up all the details on everything we peasants do. The job over-ran, got to 5.00 on Friday, and that was it, off home...

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Almost any word is hard for EE to say. The only thing they seem to be good at saying is "pay us more money" either by shafting people by putting up their contracts mid term or by making their 150 system so appallingly bad that you take them up on there offer of paying 50p to talk to someone (who is probably totally useless, can't answer your questions and will cut you off just because they can).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I left EE when my Loyalty had expired apparently...

      Told them to go fsck themselves, when I discovered they stopped giving me a loyalty discount on my monthly bill for being a long-time customer.

      Apparently, because I failed to spot this within 1 billing period, it couldn't be added back, and thus my "loyalty had expired". I told them they were spot on with that diagnosis, got a PAC code and now with 3.

      Couldn't be happier, better coverage, 4G included at no extra cost, free 0800 calls, foreign calls/texts/data taken from my monthly allowance and not charged separately.

      So glad my EE loyalty expired.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I left EE when my Loyalty had expired apparently...

        Same issue here.

        They secretly remove this from your account and do not tell you. I have had this same issue for the last 3 years, previous 2 years they credited me the overcharge when I asked for PAC.

        This year only option is to either keep no discount and cheap SIM only package with lots of data or go to very expensive EE package with more minutes and less data.

        Yesterday was taking 5-10 minutes to connect to register phone on network.

        In modern times only incompetence takes the network down due to a single connection failing, how can you run a mission critical network with a single point of failure? DOH!

        EPIC FAIL.

      2. JayKay

        Re: I left EE when my Loyalty had expired apparently...

        Same here, I switched to Three 4 years ago and have been with them ever since.

        Very fast network, never had the need to call customer services and I think their network is very stable.

        1. Fibbles

          Re: I left EE when my Loyalty had expired apparently...

          For the love of $deity stop saying good things bout Three! The last thing we need is a congested network.

          Ignore the above posts, Three is terrible! *boo* *hiss*

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: I left EE when my Loyalty had expired apparently...

            "Ignore the above posts, Three is terrible! *boo* *hiss*"

            Exactly and in no way mention the "Three in Touch" app which they seemed to release very quietly, with hardly a mention on any tech site I visit which, for me, has been brilliant. Signal at home now where no other provider gives service.

            Yes Three - awful, awful company.

            1. This post has been deleted by its author

            2. M Mouse
              WTF?

              Re: I left EE when my Loyalty had expired apparently...

              re Three inTouch App - I just tried to install it:

              "This item is not available on your carrier." came up again and again on list of devices... (I have a few different mobiles)

              ... also saw "not compatible with your device" for some of my phones, so wonder what version of Android you need?

              Won't install on my (admittedly old) Samsung Galaxy Ace nor Galaxy Europa (both bought from Three).

              Seems a bit restrictive if I can buy some new or s/h unlocked mobile, and use it on Three with the SIM but then trying to install this app for times when I cannot get signal is blocked because Three didn't sell me the flipping phone! I have two contracts with Three, so rather annoyed this is locked away!

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: I left EE when my Loyalty had expired apparently...

                "Three inTouch is available to people with Android version 4.0 or above or iOS 6 or above on their phones, apart from the HTC Desire 500, Samsung Mini S3, Sony Xperia J, iPhone 4, Samsung Galaxy Mega and Huawei Ascend P2."

                It works fine on my phone which was never locked to a provider and wasn't brought from Three.

              2. M Mouse
                Devil

                Re: I left EE when my Loyalty had expired apparently...

                Give 'em some feedback under their "we'll make it right" claim.

                Originally they said it would only work with phones sold by Three (I assume models, so s/h of a model previously stocked by Three would be OK)

                Probably easiest to take 30 minutes at a 3Store and pester the fuck out of them to sort out every one of your phones, or get them to call up the line to someone high enough to "make it so" that all restrictions apart from Android version support are banished.

                You'd be doing us all a favour (for the phones I have yet to buy... mine work OK)

  4. Rizzla

    Same old story, "we've got your money and we know you won't leave because frankly it's too much hassle. On that basis why on earth would we say sorry?".

    Ofcom has no teeth and there's no one else to make these network operators take interest so they don't.

    Let's face it, if you can get away with overseeing the system that allowed the abusing youngsters in a Local Authority and not be punished then a mobile phone operator has nothing to care about at all.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Same old story, "we've got your money and we know you won't leave because frankly it's too much hassle. On that basis why on earth would we say sorry?".

      That may be what they think, but frankly it's trivial (albeit taking longer than necessary) to change networks. And port your existing number. The hardest bit is saying "I'm not staying whatever you say. Give me my MAC" a few times until they give in.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Err... they are limited in what they say

        You should not need to: "I'm not staying whatever you say. Give me my MAC".

        The moment they try to say something ask for it to be recorded for Ofcom. They are _NOT_ _ALLOWED_ to try to prevent the customer from leaving.

      2. Stuart Castle

        Not so easy if you are mid way through your contract. It likely you will not be able to afford the early termination penalty, which for a lot of networks is paying off the remainder of your contract.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: early termination penalty

          " early termination penalty, which for a lot of networks is paying off the remainder of your contract."

          I thought there'd been a recent (last few months) court case where such penalties had been declared unlawful, and that all was allowed was reasonable unavoidable costs. IE a lot less than the contract price. This supercedes the 2010 ruling where it was said that early termination fees could not exceed the charges remaining.

          Pointers welcome?

    2. Stuart Castle

      The problem is that once they have your contract, they have you for two years. Yes, you can leave if they continually fail to live up to expectations, but, TBH, they make this so difficult that a lot of people don't bother. A friend of mine had broadband with Orange. Even though his connection was consistently worse than advertised. Even though this was the case and Orange eventually let him cancel the contract early (as they are required to), they only did it after a lot of phone calls, a lot of emails and a few letters. The process also took several weeks..

      Personally, I've been with T Mobile for a few years, and, up until this year, I've had no real problem with them. This year, the data rates and reliability of the network have (in my experience) been getting steadily worse.

      Of course, my friends on 4G via EE have no problems, but I'm not seriously considering changing to a 4G tariff (and paying more for less data) on a network where I can no longer get a reliable 3G connection.

      Then, having no data on 3G on Friday irritated the hell out of me, but the excuse staggers me. They are running a network supporting (potentially) millions of users on a single connection? I personally would expect just their London network to have multiple connections.

  5. Test Man

    This was very very very annoying for me, as I was on T-Mobile and get up to go to work at 7am - about the same time it decided to go tits-up.

    I'm probably going to move to another provider when my contract is up in the middle of 2015. This is not the only reason - part of the reason is because the 3G connection in London (and in particular at the station I commute to) is totally useless. It's a pity, cos I actually have a special plan that is very lucrative but it's not really lucrative when I can't actually use it properly.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    lol

    All these vehement comments such as Liam Maloney's make me laugh. Do you think EE give a shit? NO. So chill the fuck out.

  7. RichD

    All a bit fishy

    The odd thing was that email still worked, apparently "WhatsApp" connections still work, and anyone using TOR over the 3G connection could access the internet fine. So it pretty much seemed to be just web traffic that was interrupted.

    And having a production service running on a single unresilient fibre? Is that a design screwup or deliberate cost cutting?

  8. damian fell

    Hmm that explains that, cynically I'm now expecting a call next week offering to move me off my nice cheap legacy tmobile contract onto a new shiny EE one!

  9. AndrueC Silver badge
    Unhappy

    I wonder if that was affecting my mobile this morning? Something was and if I hadn't been able to read road signs and use basic navigation sense it'd have left me stranded at Milton Keynes around 9am. Co-pilot vanished up its arse trying to download a map update and of course Google maps won't do anything without data even if it knows the destination (home) and patently has the maps already cached locally.

    Meh. It gave me an excuse to swear at my phone so it wasn't all bad :)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Co-pilot vanished up its arse trying to download a map update and of course Google maps won't do anything without data even if it knows the destination (home) and patently has the maps already cached locally.

      That's why I have TomTom installed. Not only creates that total independence of any network connectivity (unless I want to enable traffic updates), it also stops Google from getting my location.

      Win win :)

      1. AndrueC Silver badge
        Meh

        Not only creates that total independence of any network connectivity (unless I want to enable traffic updates)

        That was why I have Co-pilot. Normally it doesn't need a network connection and after one unfortunate return trip from the New Forest I appreciate the need for that. The first time I fired it up for the outward leg it quickly gave up trying to update and ran on the older maps. But I think on the return leg it actually started to download at Milton Keynes and then stalled. After that it didn't want to know until I got back home to wifi.

        My guess is that it started to overwrite the maps and was then stuck. If true that's just shitty programming. Programming 101 - download stuff to scratch and only copy over the working stuff when you know it's good.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          My guess is that it started to overwrite the maps and was then stuck. If true that's just shitty programming. Programming 101 - download stuff to scratch and only copy over the working stuff when you know it's good.

          Sounds about right, but it's a tricky problem. If an app can only run a download when it's active you will forever be in that situation. TT tends to upgrade the app as a whole, which creates a different pain in the neck in that you need to have at least that amount of space free or the update will fail (and it takes the better part of a century to download).

          It also has map updates, but I will have to talk to the Information Commissioner about TT forcing "sharing" before you are entitled to download their updates. I much rather pay and not share than being forced to share. In my experience, "free" never is, and I prefer to know the true cost of things.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "That was why I have Co-pilot."

          Bwahahahahahaha! Another UK victim of Copilot's predatory UK pricing. £5.49 for all of the USA, or £24 just for the Western bits of Europe. I'd quite like Copilot, due to the limitations of the free Navfree app, and the neutered Google Maps service, but if they think they're fleecing me then they can FOAD, I'll manage with the two free apps mentioned.

  10. Trev 2

    If this only affected T-Mobile connections, I wonder if there's a single fibre connecting that old network to the Orange one which is where the internet stuff now comes through? Would seem the only way to break only one lot of customers connections without the other...but is a total guess.

  11. PaulR79

    Pathetic

    As others have asked here I should be astonished that a massive outage can be caused by a single broken fibre cable. It should be punishable that they have a single source of failure that can affect all of their T-Mobile customers nationwide. As others have also said it can only be due to cost cutting that this has happened. That or gross negligence!

    The thing that has annoyed me more than anything though is that I had to hunt down a WiFi signal while out then search for reports of problems just to discover that there was a problem. The main suspect until that point was my phone because I had full signal and 3G / H+ signal showing the whole time. For a massive communication company with so many customers they don't appear to know how to communicate with customers unless it's to demand money or to try and sell them new services.

    Last things to mention. Until this post on El Reg I have seen no reports of this anywhere else except the Daily Fail of all places. The forum posts from EE were mentioning hourly updates which, naturally, didn't happen and of course there was no sign of a real apology or explanation for how they could screw up so badly. I don't know who will bother beyond me but I'm on a 30 day SIM only deal so this is the final nail in the coffin so to speak. I have no loyalty to a company that I've been with for the best part of 5 years who couldn't even match a SIM only price with 3 or offer the same allowances.

    1. AndrueC Silver badge

      Re: Pathetic

      Last things to mention. Until this post on El Reg I have seen no reports of this anywhere else except the Daily Fail of all places.

      I think I did.

      And the parent page has links to a lot of companies including 'T-Mobile' although you need to select the UK specific link there. The Virgin Mobile link appears to be taking complaints from the UK - at least most of the comments yesterday were from UK users.

  12. gerdesj Silver badge

    I wonder if someone knicked the cable thinking it was copper. This has happened many times across the UK eg Street(*) a couple of years ago.

    Cheers

    Jon

    * That's the town's name, not a road missing its name.

  13. bigfoot780

    Common sense

    1. Don't have a single point of failure.

    2. Stop overcharging.

    3. Stop charging to call the support line.

    4. Buy some Helpdesk software and make it possible for customers to submit a ticket. Provide SLAs.

    5. Provide text updates to affected customers with a ETA.

    6. Don't ignore social media. It can be a great marketing tool.

    7. Don't ignore complaints.

  14. Christian Berger Silver badge

    The Internet was meant to survive a nuclear war...

    ... but nobody back then has thought of MBAs.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Where???

    "We posted hourly updates on the T-Mobile data issues all day on Friday for customers with repeated apologies."

    Where did they post them? By the apparently lack of knowledge of what was going on and the large number of pissed off people posting you have to ask just where EE are posting there stuff.

    Also what the hell does "for customers with repeated apologies" mean?

    1. Steve Foster

      Re: Where???

      If you take that sentence fragment by itself, it means nothing.

      But the original sentence reads correctly (if a little awkwardly). Adding some emphasis might help to make the meaning clearer:

      "We posted hourly updates on the T-Mobile data issues all day on Friday for customers with repeated apologies."

      ie the updates posted hourly on Friday contained apologies as well as being about the data issues.

      1. Steve Knox Silver badge

        Re: Where???

        Actually, the way you formatted the sentence makes it read like the updates were only posted for those customers who had repeatedly apologised to EE.

        Which perversely makes sense, given their general customer support attitude.

      2. M Mouse

        Re: Where???

        "We posted hourly updates on the T-Mobile data issues all day on Friday for customers with repeated apologies."

        I think a comma between "customers" and "with" might have made it a touch clearer:

        "We posted hourly updates on the T-Mobile data issues all day on Friday for customers, with repeated apologies."

        exactly where they posted is still unclear (though lucky for me, I no longer use them!)

    2. dotdavid

      Re: Where???

      "Where did they post them?"

      To Rockall.

  16. Steve Foster

    Text Explained

    This article explains why I received an apology SMS from EE this morning.

    Not that I'd noticed the problem, mind you, as I tend to use my phone data as backup for when I'm not otherwise connected.

  17. Paul Martin

    Transproxy failure

    The problem only affected web traffic (http and https). Other protocols (if not already filtered by T-Mobile) were not affected. The problem was logically then at T-Mobile's bandwidth-reducing (by reducing image quality) and censoring (and, presumably, government mandated logging) transparent proxy server farm. This explains why VPN and encrypted email connections still worked.

  18. Kerry Hoskin

    bored?

    If you fancy a fun filled way to pass the time then pop over to EE's Facebook page and read the posts by EE victims, I mean customers, they are hilarious

  19. Peter Galbavy
    FAIL

    SDH rings are obviously not very round...

    Just got a text from them "apologising" - I guess this and other bad press has worked.

    Not that it helps as they really should not be affected by a single fiber cut, even if it cracks a whole load of them. Poor network planning, poor management and incompetent staff. Nothing to see here.

  20. yorkiepudd

    No information given at all

    Not a single text all day explaining or giving any information about the issues! They don'thave any problem sending out marketing texts though! Absolute shambles and still they can't give an apology.

    Apparently there were updates posted on their community forum. Great, apart from 1) only a minority of customers are actually aware of the forums existence, and 2) you needed a data connection to view the updates ( hang on, we didn't have a data connection).

    Absolutely unacceptable.

  21. L3

    I got this txt at 12:25pm 1/09/14

    Hello from EE. We apologise to customers affected by Friday's data access issue. A cable to our technical centre was cut accidentally and this caused problems for some of our customers trying to use data. Our engineers worked overnight to fix and restore service by 5.30am on Saturday. Thanks for bearing with us and sorry again for any inconvenience.

  22. M Mouse
    Happy

    T-Mobile - naff network on 3G where I am...

    I took out a 'Full Monty" contract with them around 20 months ago, stuck out dire service for 6 months, before getting a PAC and going back to Three. Luckily for me they let me go without penalty and the cashback deal of £101 covered the 6 months (£16 instead of £31 a month).

    Turned out that the dropped calls and lack of reliable "unlimited" data was the result of them switching 3 local masts to EE 4G service, and T-Mobile / Orange 3G customers could go fuck themselves, as far as EE was concerned.

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