UK phone networks down as 'cross-industry' issue strikes

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All four major UK mobile operators have been affected by a fault that has prevented some users from making calls.

O2, Three and Vodafone have all confirmed that some customers had encountered difficulties as a result of a “cross-industry” issue.

“There was a relatively short lived problem with around 9 per cent of voice calls on 3G not getting through,” said Vodafone. “While services have returned to normal, all the networks are working together to fully understand the issue.”

UK mobile phone networks 

"We are aware of an issue affecting around 3 per cent of voice calls,” added Three. “We apologise for any inconvenience and our team is working to fix this ASAP. The rest of the network is stable.”

The outages had caused concern that the UK’s mobile infrastructure was being affected by greater demand caused by remote working as a result of the coronavirus crisis. However it appears as though there is an issue in connecting calls between different operators.

EE told customers as much in a statement to customers, however it also pointed the finger at an unnamed rival, stating the disruption was caused by an “issue in another operator’s network.” Earlier reports had suggested that O2 was at fault – an allegation the company denies.

“Today the industry experienced an issue that meant some calls between different networks were unable to connect,” an O2 spokesperson told TechRadar Pro. “ Specifically, O2, Vodafone and Three were unable to connect to EE and EE customers were unable to connect to O2, Vodafone and Three.

“At a time when the country needs connectivity most, it is important we work together rather than pointing fingers before facts have been determined.

“As this was a problem for a multiple networks, there is a National Emergency Alert for Telecommunications and Ofcom call at 2:30pm this afternoon to determine the route of the issue to ensure this doesn't happen again.”

“A technical incident with equipment that connects the UK’s mobile networks together has caused some customers to have problems making phone calls today," said EE. "Data was not affected, and emergency 999 calls were completed successfully. This was not related to any increase in calls created by a rise in working from home.”

Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.