back to article EE data network goes TITSUP* after mystery firewall problem

Mobile network operator EE appears to have been hit by a nation-wide outage. People took to Twitter this morning to complain of the network and data outage affecting large swathes of the country: @EE Data Network Down in Manchester area ?. Can't get any data connection on any either phone #ee #networkdown — Neil Reid (@ …

  1. Ketlan
    Devil

    Oh, dear...

    I'm sorry but LOL, you shouldn't have gone with such a shite company.

    1. Real Ale is Best

      Re: Oh, dear...

      I'm sorry but LOL, you shouldn't have gone with such a shite company.

      Name a good mobile phone company.

      Everyweek I see complaints about all of them. They all have "shite customer service", "frequent outages", "No Coverage in $location", "Frequent call drops", and "Crap data rates".

      1. h4rm0ny

        Re: Oh, dear...

        I've so far gone through Orange (now EE), Three and Vodafone. None have been satisfactory. Orange probably had the best coverage in my area but messed up everything else and were pricier. Three's coverage wasn't great and nor was Vodafone's.

        What we really need is a reliable set of metrics, publically and independent, so that we can more easily see who is best on service. If the government wanted to do something useful with the networks, gathering and publishing official statistics would be the single best thing they could do. Give people the ability to look and see that Vodafone is worst for coverage in the North West or whatever, and you would immediately see more investment by the companies.

        Market competition fails when the customers cannot see which product is better because everything is anecdotal and geographically situational.

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: Oh, dear...

          >What we really need is a reliable set of metrics, publically and independent, so that we can more easily see who is best on service. If the government wanted to do something useful with the networks, gathering and publishing official statistics would be the single best thing they could do

          An app on people's phones might be the best way of gathering that information. After all, the phone knows where it is, and the phone can test its up/download speeds. Having tens of thousands of phones gathering this data would make such a coverage map fairly quick to compile.

          Just an idea. I'm not sure who would be best to implement it. Maybe we'll end up with soft-SIMs, and just use whichever operator has the best signal in an area.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Oh, dear...

            Sensorly app does just that

          2. OllyL

            Re: Oh, dear...

            Such an app already exists. I don't know if one is allowed to post links to app stores, so I won't, but if you search (certainly the Apple App Store) for 'CoverageMap' and select the one by RootMetrics, it already exists. Also lets you view the results, filter by network/technology etc...

            I assume it's in the UK app store (as my installation was from the US one)

            1. Dave 126 Silver badge

              Re: Oh, dear...

              Thanks AC, thanks OllyL...

              They both appear to be apps that map mobile phone coverage... now what we need is an app to compare the apps that compare the networks! :-)

          3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Oh, dear...

            "Just an idea. I'm not sure who would be best to implement it."

            Maybe the SamKnows people?

          4. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: Oh, dear...

            "An app on people's phones might be the best way of gathering that information. "

            There are a number of apps for this already.

      2. Scuby

        Re: Oh, dear...

        Three - I switched to them my service with NN got progressively worse. Their Customer Service is outstanding!

        1. Lamont Cranston

          Re: Three - customer service outstanding

          The customer retentions (or whatever they're called) operator at Three called me a liar when I called to cancel my contract. Didn't stack up well against the people employed by Orange, who have never been anything less than polite, whether I've been leaving or joining their network.

          That said, their high street outlets seem to be staffed with duplicitous sharks, unlike the local O2 store, where the lad was more than happy to let me leave without buying anything.

          Swings and roundabouts, I suppose.

      3. Oli 1

        Re: Oh, dear...

        Too true.

        Isn't technology wonderful!

      4. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

        Re: Oh, dear...

        Why is this a surprise? People shop by price, putting quantity over quality, as always.

        I'm sure that any of these companies could do far better if they just doubled their prices. Do you seriously think that it would have customers flocking to it, even if it were proven to be better? Of course not, they'd all scream RIP OFF and head for some other cheap-as-chips crap outfit, and then moan about the quality.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I'm sure that any of these companies could do far better if they just doubled their prices

          They could do far better without touching their prices. How many people do you know who don't use mobile phones? The revenue generated by mobile telecoms is phenomenal and there's no excuse for not making sure the infrastructure can keep up with users. Look around the car park at Vodafone hq and tell me that they're short of cash....

          1. Dave 126 Silver badge

            Re: I'm sure that any of these companies could do far better if they just doubled their prices

            >Why is this a surprise? People shop by price, putting quantity over quality, as always.

            Only they don't; in this market, people can't shop by price because it is near impossible to compare tariffs. It's what Dilbert-creator Scott Adams dubbed a 'confusopoly'.

            https://fitforrandomness.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/confusopoly.png

            Instead, people often go by which network offers best reception in their area, or ditch an operator if they get messed around by them.

            The best way to get a good tariff is to buy your phone out-right, and then negotiate a SIM-only tariff, since they know that you can switch operator at any time. It also has the bonus that your phone is covered by the Sales of Goods Act, so if it malfunctions you can insist on a full refund or a straight swap for a new unit from the retailer, without having to wait a fortnight for a repair.

            "£16, you say? Umm, seems a little high... £15... lower, lower, nah, lower or I'm switching to Vodaphone... £12? Okay, that'll do. Thank you."

            1. Bunbury

              Re: I'm sure that any of these companies could do far better if they just doubled their prices

              @Dave126

              I suspect people are shopping to some degree by price, it's just that the difficulty of comparing confusing price structures means that you're not sure to make a logical choice.

              Though I know some people who used to go with the operator that the rest of their family had to cut down calling costs by phoning within network

              If there are several confusing operators that sounds more like a confusoligarchy...

              1. Julz Bronze badge

                Re: I'm sure that any of these companies could do far better if they just doubled their prices

                All you'll get is a map of population density not true geographical coverage...

            2. Alan Brown Silver badge

              Re: I'm sure that any of these companies could do far better if they just doubled their prices

              One telco CEO flat out admitted the confusopoly too:

              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theresa_Gattung

              http://www.nzherald.co.nz/technology/news/article.cfm?c_id=5&objectid=10380894

        2. h4rm0ny

          Re: Oh, dear...

          >>"I'm sure that any of these companies could do far better if they just doubled their prices. Do you seriously think that it would have customers flocking to it, even if it were proven to be better?"

          I'd be willing to pay around a 15% mark-up over their competitors if I knew it was better. If Vodafone was £20 a month and Three was £25 a month but I knew that I would get solid reliable service with Three, I would choose them. There is a market for quality.

          1. Dave 126 Silver badge

            Re: Oh, dear...

            >I'd be willing to pay around a 15% mark-up over their competitors if I knew it was better.

            Okay, let's roughly divide that 'reliability' into two categories:

            - Day-to-day coverage of a wide geographical area. Okay, you can get some data for this, and make your decision accordingly.

            - Protection from occasional blips in service. This is harder to judge, so is harder for companies to compete on. Every company has been known to mess up from time to time, so without knowing the future I'm not sure how you can make your choice based on this criterion. Okay, that extra 15% you pay might allow for some extra redundancy in some areas of the network, or possibly allow a system where you get priority over other customers during areas/periods of congestion... but it might only take one engineer to screw up once to deprive you of service for a few hours.

            If you wanted the greatest possible reliability, you'd carry several phones on different networks and pack a satellite phone too. And a pager. Sod it: radios SW and CB, a scanner, Aldis lamp and flares.

    2. Fullbeem

      Re: Oh, dear...

      Like banks and car insurance companies, all as bad as each other. Especially when you want something from them, ie service/customer care/the product you paid for

      1. Soruk

        Re: Oh, dear...

        > Like banks and car insurance companies, all as bad as each other.

        > Especially when you want something from them, ie service/customer care/the product you paid for

        Mobile networks' customer service was obviously designed by a farmer. Their concept of service comes from the way a bull services a cow.

        1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: Oh, dear...

          Mobile networks' customer service was obviously designed by a farmer.

          Maybe they got confused by the old joke: farmers are clearly experts, they are men out standing in their fields.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Whole country?

    4G Seems fine in and around Brum

    3G actually seems better????

    1. Tom Wood

      Re: Whole country?

      I was listening to the live BBC radio stream over 4G EE on my commute between Leeds and Shipley between 9:00 and 9:30 this morning with no problems.

    2. Phil W

      Re: Whole country?

      Same here no problem here across 30 miles of Cheshire at any point this morning.

  3. TonyJ Silver badge

    EE Business

    I moved from O2 to EE. Both on Business accounts.

    I was genuinely nervous because their non business customer service gets a general hammering in online reviews.

    However, the few bits I could find about their business side seemed to paint a different picture so I took a gamble.

    It was also helped by the sharing package, the larger amount of data (1GB on 4G? Really, O2?) and their much better coverage in the areas I'd usually find myself in.

    Four months on and so far I have no regrets.

    None of them are perfect that is for sure but so far EE have been far from the worst and I've previously been with others such as T-Mobile (prior to being bought) and Voda

  4. Doctor_Wibble
    Black Helicopters

    Guvmint interference, obviously

    This is a completely predictable event, you can guarantee that within a week or so of any government pontification about the danger of the internet, some major provider will have a major outage, 'purely coincidentally' of course and absolutely nothing to do with installing the government's black boxes... not technically necessary but having one of these means they can make a pretence of legitimacy because someone signed for it and it's got a proper asset label and everything, it must be OK.

  5. David Lewis 2
    Joke

    Don't Worry ...

    This sort of thing won't happen once BT take over!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Don't Worry ...

      No, BT will outsource the firewall to someone else and when it goes down will argue for a week about which end has the problem.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Don't Worry ...

        Errrr, nadd EE firewall is not outsourced??

  6. Velv Silver badge

    EE has been having trouble in North Central Edinburgh since December. iPad shows 4G, but if you actually try to use it it then shows 3G, but still fails. Tether to my O2 3G phone and it rockets.

    It did work in early December, but I've only got 20 days left so will be trying someone else next

  7. Cuddles Silver badge
    Coat

    Nothing Nowhere

    Hang on, doesn't that double negative actually translate to Something Everywhere?

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Nothing Nowhere

      Nothing Nowhere = Something Somewhere <= Something Everywhere <= Everything Everywhere

      1. Blane Bramble
        FAIL

        Re: Nothing Nowhere

        Nope, try again:

        Nothing Nowhere = no location has nothing = Something Everywhere as the first poster said.

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: Nothing Nowhere

          I stand corrected. Thank you Blane.

    2. Velv Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Nothing Nowhere

      An MIT linguistics professor was lecturing his class the other day. "In English," he said, "a double negative forms a positive. However, in some languages, such as Russian, a double negative remains a negative. But there isn't a single language, not one, in which a double positive can express a negative."

      A voice from the back of the room piped up, "Yeah, right."

  8. Teiwaz Silver badge

    My phone only works when I'm in the bog

    No point taking it with me, nobody wants to speak to someone on the toilet, not as if germs can be transmitted on the phone. Guess they just afraid of the sound of something dropping in water from a height of about 25cm.

  9. Wilco

    In central London it was broken at 8.45, but seems fine now.

    Bet they never cough as to what went wrong. A little transparency would be nice.

  10. Roj Blake Silver badge

    IT Crowd to the Rescue

    Not had data since about 8am, but turning the phone off and on again seems to have fixed it.

  11. Wilseus

    Me too

    Ah yes, my T-Mobile 3G service (I don't own a new-fangled 4G phone) was conspicuous by its absence in the Northampton/MK area this morning. It wasn't just a lack of an Internet connection though: the 3G signal itself was down, there was simply no service.

  12. Jim 59

    El Reg is awaiting a comment from EE.

    Apart from "awaiting", and curating a few Tweets, what other investigation has El Reg done ? You must have a few contacts, surely ? Did anybody phone up EE ? Sorry man, story just seems thinner than a sheet of graphene, so far.

  13. Zog The Undeniable

    The flipside of competition

    is the race to the bottom. If all your competitors are cutting services and increasing prices, so can you. Look at per-second charging of calls (quietly dropped ages ago by most operators), charging a king's ransom for Freefone 0800 numbers, connection fees, mid-contract price rises (what - you can't even set a flat price for TWO miserable years?), hopeless call centre queues etc. Sometimes the industry acts as a virtual cartel, knowing that anything Ofcom says will be like being savaged by a dead sheep.

    Worstall should do an article on that. I'd like to read it.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: The flipside of competition

      Until Worstall writes a piece, the man who gave us the PHB has written:

      http://blog.dilbert.com/post/102544401421/confusopolies

  14. src

    MI6

    I expect it's problems with the latest MI6 privacy slurping system. All UK mobile companies are rubbish - especially when it comes to customer service.

    I have been using au here in Japan for over a year and they are great. Not had a single problem with their super fast LTE network. When the charging port died on my handset they replaced it in a couple of days with a brand new one for a nominal fee.

    1. Roj Blake Silver badge

      Re: MI6

      Everyone knows that MI6 wouldn't do that sort of thing.

      It's GCHQ's job.

  15. This post has been deleted by its author

  16. eSeM

    Problems South Of The River ....

    My EE phone lost it's 4G data connection this morning sometime between 8 and 9 however a MiFi that sits on my desk, also on EE 4G, didn't have any issues.

    (ceneral London location)

  17. MyNameIsSteve

    Been down all day here, started off in Leicester & now in Peterborough & still absolutely no data connection. Tried all the obvious off & on things to no avail. So the outage was only for an hour was it EE?

  18. SimD

    Still problems

    The data problem got fixed, but somehow it's caused other problems, i.e. no incoming SMS or phone calls despite outgoing working. So if anyone thinks their phone is a little quiet today....

    Source: EE customer services, they hope it'll be fixed today...

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Probably worth noting that business don't deliberately piss off their customers. And since everyone agrees all (or at least most if you have a favourite) are as bad as each other, that probably tells you that an always-on good service, no hiccups, is difficult; and people's expectation from an industry that hasn't even been around too long, is higher than it should be. Yesterday's wow-factor miracle of technology is quickly labelled today's piece of crap that can't even be a perfect commodity service.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "... and people's expectation from an industry that hasn't even been around too long, is higher than it should be"

      A problem entirely of their own devising then, since it was the networks wall-to-wall 'the sun shines out of our arse' marketing that encouraged the public expectation in the first place.

  20. imaginarynumber

    Thanks EE, I wasted 2.5 hours travelling from Hammersmith to Ealing to meet a client in the pub early yesterday evening. I noticed that my SMSes to them weren't getting delivery reports so i assumed that their phone was turned off and eventually left the pub. Eventually at about 9.30pm my phone was flooded with text messages that had been sent to me earlier in the day. Will have to spend today apologising to customers, including those that had tried to call me but couldn't get through.

    Rather oddly, the delivery report for the messages that i had sent have time stamps that are earlier than when i actually sent them?

    4G internet access had been fine all day, I hadn't made any calls and accordingly assumed that the network was fine.

    1. imaginarynumber

      As an update.

      I was able to communicate with people on different carriers today but still unable to send texts to my GF's O2.

      if I reboot I can send/receive texts BUT if I try to resend one of the earlier failed messages it puts the kibosh on everything again and I need to reboot.

      V odd

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