More than 30 million mobile customers of providers including O2, Tesco Mobile and Sky Mobile have been unable to get online or use 3G and 4G services after a technical fault caused a UK-wide outage.
The outage hit O2 and also affected companies that use its network including its subsidiary Giffgaff and Lycamobile. It began at about 4am on Thursday, according to the website DownDetector.
O2, which has about 25 million UK customers, said that voice calls were still working but advised people to seek out wifi if they needed to get online while the outage persisted.
“We’d encourage our customers to use wifi wherever they can and we apologise for the inconvenience caused,” said an O2 spokesman.
The company said that the problem stemed from a global software issue at a third-party supplier, understood to be Ericsson, which has also affected other mobile operators around the world.
“We’re aware that our customers are unable to use data this morning,” said a spokesman for O2, which is owned by the Spanish telecoms giant Telefonica.
“One of our third-party suppliers has identified a global software issue in their system which has impacted us. We believe other mobile operators around the world are also affected. Our technical teams are working with their teams to ensure this is fixed as quickly as possible.”
In total, about 31 million mobile phone users have been affected as a number of third-party mobile providers that rely on the O2 network, including Tesco Mobile, Sky Mobile, Lycamobile and O2’s Giffgaff have also been affected.
The outage has also affected services such as Transport for London’s live updates of bus arrival times at stops across the capital, which relies on O2’s network for data updates.
In October, O2 apologised for a major network outage affecting customers across the UK. The company said at the time that the issue was fixed within 40 minutes.
In 2012, O2 was at the centre of a major network outage when customers were not able to access services for 25 hours.