O2 Admitting to iPhone Data Strain on Network

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The UK's leading provider of mobile phones, O2, is openly admitting to having iPhone related network issues. It seems AT&T might not be alone afas O2 chief executive Ronan Dunne recently let out the secret that the last 6 months the iPhone had overwhelmed its network in London. Of course, O2 is claiming that the issues are all fixed and the network is as healthy as ever.

O2 iPhone owners have suffered through some of the same issues as some AT&T customers have experienced - dropped calls, data inconsistency, etc... So the big question is what has O2 done to solve the issue at hand? They've gone and spent a ton of money on the network to meet it's demand including adding 200 additional mobile towers in the areas of need.

Any of our readers currently on the O2 network care to comment on your current service? Let us know in the comments below!

Footnote: 
[via 9to5Mac]

Jeremy

Community editor. Tech enthusiast. All-around geek.

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There are 36 comments. Add yours.

icebike says:

Oh, no! Not the highly touted European network! This can't happen there. Dropped calls? They don't even know what those are in Europe!!!

coolbell says:

o2 seem to be okay. although it has only been in the last month ive had about 2 instances where i've lost data access. also.. had a strange thing where my 3g was switched off.. and when i switched it on.. i received about 30 texts all from o2 numbers from the previous week. altho i must say, apart from this, it sounds like o2 > att!!!

bjblyth says:

Never had any problems with o2 AT ALL. 3G is quick and I've never had dropped calls.
This is all media hype if you ask me.

Davotek says:

Yep, bjblyth is bang on. All good for me. Countryside cover is poor, but populated areas are great.

RICO gusmam says:

I never get dropped calls but ALWAYS suffer lost data access. The 3g network is nowhere near as strong as Orange as my son has his iPhone on that network and we live in the same house. Overall O2's network needs to be much stronger. They do have good customer service though

Rothko says:

It's been a massive problem in central London in the rush hours, the data network on O2 in the summer of 2009 would die as people walked out of offices and onto their iPhone's at the end of a day of work.
To be fair to O2, it has got a hell of a lot better in the last 3 months, and now there is decent data coverage in central London.
But, O2 does struggle with data at sporting venues compared to the other 4 UK networks, might be iPhone related, or just lacking the towers near stadiums

The Dave says:

All in all the 3g in cities is excellent. Soon as you leave a city 3g dies and your left on edge or the dreaded "dot" to meet your data needs. If they expand the coverage of the network not just the 3g then I will have no complaints.

Ben Gillam says:

Interestig claim from them, but how can it be too many users causing the problem of nobody gettig an ip. no ip no Internet simple.
But outside of London I have never had an issue, even in London no problems. So it's not all falling apart for most of us like AT&T .
But o2 need to train their staff, when I rang to try and get info or an update on the outage they told me told me it was my signal. ... WTF my signal is causing 90% of iPhone customers to not be able to use data. To which the call center said yes so I gave up and hung up.
The outlook us quite gloomy for me and June when my contract is up. I'll be wanting a v4. But o2's network is apparently knackered, & orange and vodas tarrifs are crap.... Hopefully by June the three networks will change things for the better to co-incide with new iPhone.

Lolipopjones says:

To respond to the article. Remember their is a huge difference in the network At&t is supporting vs the network O2 owns. The Larger a network is the more it takes to support it plus Federal laws on allocating spectrum and allowing the building of new towers is inane.

syzygy says:

Never had a dropped call but often had no signal of any kind - the O2 coverage outside densely populated areas is dreadful. Even in populated areas it is spotty.

icebike says:

So it’s not all falling apart for most of us like AT&T .

Ah, you need to check your facts.
The overwhelmingly VAST majority of AT&T users have no problems at all. Some people in central NYC and San Francisco do. But other large cities and 3G areas are wondering what all the fuss is about, because everything works just fine.

jk says:

agreed @icebike. Its the few in the very few centralized locations (like NY and San Fran) screaming the loudest. Most of the rest of the people overall dont have any more problems then with any other carrier at times.
And this just goes to show that MAYBE its not ATT, maybe its an iphone problem with the network after all. O2 has less iphone users then ATT by far and are still having problems, so maybe theres more to this then meets the eye.
Not to say that ATT couldnt invest more in their network, but maybe throwing money blindly at the problem really isnt the answer. Maybe the answer it find whats causing the problem or in what specific areas and go at those first, not just simple "build towers" as the drone masses are calling for that might not even solve the problem

smitty says:

@jk... How dare you be so rational!

Jack Kwack says:

Icebike - sorry but that is simply inaccurate. There are problems in other large cities as well, but NY and SF are getting the most attention due to their international profile. San Diego and Sacramento immediately come to mind.
AT&T support admits to as much. They didn't ask a single question when I called in today to get my big, fat credit as I do each month. Only a "thanks for your patience, we're working on it, Sir."
Thier words, not mine. Your defense of them is falling flat.

Dragonfly says:

It's the network. My friend and I both have iPhones 3gs's, I'm on O2 he's Orange, at work he's got constant 3G coverage with full bars, and guess what I'm running on, GPRS. O2's 3G coverage is a complete joke! I can't stand them, soon as the 4G is launched on another network I'm jumping ship.

MrJohnnyC says:

As an o2 customer pre-iPhone and also as an iPhone 3G user, I have been very impressed by this network provider. True, dropped calls are on the increase but, for me, they are a small price to pay for a stunning product and otherwise solid service. Coverage is good in my area but yes, it would be nice to see a little more 3G status over Edge or 'the dot'.

Philly Z! says:

I was on Verizon here in America & it blew with how they limited there phones& had the worst ones so when the iPhone 3G came out I jumped ship, honestly yes ATT 3G lacks in areas but where I live & attend college I have 3G and it's perfect. All ATT needs is to expand their 3g an I'll be happy. But if the government opened up some of the wireless spectrum for all telecom companys it would help every1 in the future when every1s phone demands such high data amounts

Philly Z! says:

Plus for all the morons who wish apple picked verizon ur dumbbbb!!!!
Cause verizon would have disabled the wi-fi on the iPhone like they did to all phones pre-2007 along with throwning all there verizon software B.S.
So mayb now it will be good I'd apple sells on verizons network but if so it'll also help all of us out who are sticking with ATT since we don't have them taxing the system

Macintosh says:

It’s the crappy iPhone that has the freaking issue and not the networks!! OMG!!
Apple fanboys, I know its hard to swallow and accept but Apple can make mistakes too! Suck it up and accept that the iPhone is the problem here. Again, whats the common denominator? … Yes, the iPhone!
If I were you guys I would get the Nexus One!
(Google partnered with a cell phone makers who makes cell phones for a living and have created NEXUS ONE! However, this time it’ll be branded as the Google Phone! Soon to be launched on Jan. 5, 2010)
Unlike Apple on the other hand (for cost cutting purposes) partnered with Foxcon to make the iPhone. Who makes inferior parts and cheap labor.

Macintosh says:

Hey iDiot!
You’re missing the WHOLE point dummy!
What I’m trying to say is, the iPhone has problems or is plagued with issues, no matter what continent you live on is the POINT!!

Smitty says:

Macintosh
Of course the iPhone is the common denominator, you're on an iPhone specific blog. I could go to Google News and read dozens of stories about Android issues (fragmentation being the biggest issue, and one Google itself addressed in its "definition of open" letter), or BlackBerry (RIM network down again?), and occasionally Palm.
As Android picks up more market share we'll all begin to read stories about what's wrong with it. Three co-workers of mine picked up Android phones in the past month and within a week traded them in for their old phones (2 BlackBerry 1 iPhone).
The only real common denominator is that people are generally never satisfied unless an experience is perfect in every way, and they get everything they want even if they don't need it (i.e. Google Voice).

Macintosh says:

@Smitty, don’t get fresh with me ACE. The common denominator of the network problems IS the iPhone.
My friend do you not follow Android? It has roughly 27% of the market RIGHT now and that’s only within 14 months of existence. The iPhone/iTouch has about 49% of the market share 30 months of existence.
Who cares about fragmentation! Will it hurt the Android movement? No, fragmentation is good for everyone. Everyone can create their own eco-system and everyone will be happy. The most important thing about its all Android. At the end of the day Android made it happen which Apple could NOT because Apple is closed minded company.
Apple loves DRM and patents, it loves the fact that you can’t go on iTunes without an iPod….
So what does a collective of companies do in a time of solidarity? They came together and created the open handset alliance. Because they are sick and tired of Apple and the way it runs its business.
How about this, why does Apple force its users or makes them think that one way is better than the other? Why cant we have options? For example, why cant we have the option to have photos as our background on the iPhone? Why cant we have the option to change batteries? Why cant we have the option to have widgets or gadgets run on our OWN phones?
You have to remember people you DO NOT lease your phones. You PAID for it and can and should be able to do anything with it!

Oliver Haslam says:

If we can get past the fanboy rubbish for a moment....
O2 may mention London, but the fact is their data network has been flakey at best for a good few months. Since the 3GS launched, and the 3G saw a price drop, the growth in numbers seems to have pushed the network over the edge. Any fairly large gathering, be it a sports event or a shopping centre means you've little to no chance of getting any data movement. Interestingly enough, the O2 PAYG data settings seem fine.
Hopefully Orange and Vodafone joining the party will help O2 get back to the good data speeds we were getting 12 months ago.

azface says:

I live in NW London (zone 3: pretty central) and It has become impossible for my iPhone to hold a call inside my house. I have to stand outside my house in the freezing cold to even have a single reception bar. The issue has been so severe at times that I end up making alls trough Skype!! O2 has another 6 months from me to fix it's coverage 'blackholes' or else I will shuffle along to Vodafone. All in all, great Customer Service but poor Network Service.

Paul says:

No issues with o2 as far as the network is concerned.

smitty says:

Macintosh
Forgive me. When I said market share, I should have said relevance. While Android is coming on fast, is on multiple handsets, and multiple carriers, it didn't become truly relevant until the Moto Droid came out.
The primary reason Apple restricts the end user's ability to truly customize their products is to ensure that each user experience is as streamlined as possible. Overall the iPhone still ranks highest in customer satisfaction (J.D. Power).
As illustrated by the post I originally responded to, you're not expressing general Android excitement, but Nexus One excitement. Clearly fragmentation is an issue, you're just not looking at the whole picture.

Macintosh says:

@Smitty - Look what you made me do – you made me laugh so hard I accidentally spit on my monitors. I love the J.D. Power and Associates comment. I seem to have tunnel vision at the moment. Please enlighten me or educate me regarding fragmentation?

kbduvall says:

I've was using an iPhone on AT&T when I lived in Las Vegas, and now while I live in Atlanta. I must say that I've had no noticeable issues; even when I travel. I'm sure there are issues in certain large cities but my experience tells me that AT&Ts network isn't "crap" as people like to say.

sam_mp says:

I am disgusted by the kind of misstatements that is going on in the media about the capacity of 3G networks in dealing with iphone demand. The networks that are having trouble are not true 3G. If you want information check this link. http://www.3g.co.uk/PR/Nov2006/3897.htm . It is the decision of some companies to forego investing in true 3G and try to go directly to 4G that is causing problems. What they call EVOLVED EDGE network is an improved 2.5 GSM network that is very difficult to scale up or integrate with 3G. It is latched on the old network nonuniformly and creates bottlenecks. True 3G would work just fine. Even verizon’s CDMA will not have any problem. O2 UK. and AT&T should face up to the fact and limit the number of iphones or any 3G smart phones they are trying to support. Otherwise somebody should take them to court.

DavoteK says:

Its FANBOYMANIA XXVI~!!!

Bill Buchan says:

The O2 network in London has suffered from lack of investment, bandwidth issues and management issues. That is, even through you get a full signal, the base station just doesn't have enough bandwidth to accept incoming calls. Let alone all the funky stuff that they do in the iPhone ads.
O2's customer service failed completely. 55+ of us in Southwark Street have had bandwidth issues - 3g service but not incoming calls, outgoing calls, texts, internet - since June. Between 9am and 6pm every single day. For six months.
Complaints to O2 fell on deaf ears. We finally petitioned the Chairmans office - to no avail. We're now escalating to OFTEL and our MP's in order to get O2 to actually provide the service we pay a premium for.
We've kept a blog of our experience so far over at http://www.billbuchan.com/o2/ and are now trying to wring compensation from O2. Its hard going though - despite paying a premium, it transpires that they don't have to give any sort of service whatsoever. Nice.
If you have a working 3g signal in London - good luck. O2 just started supporting Tesco Mobile iPhones - so expect any service you do get to get degraded.
Short answer: Mobile companies are all bad. You have to keep your foot hard up their backside in order to extract the service you are paying for.
---* Bill

Fraydog says:

Macintosh,
The people who go into the Apple walled garden, know they are going there. The DRM arguments are crazy silly, the only way that Apple could have built the iTunes Store was a type of DRM, a DRM that was far less in control than what was done before, i.e. Microsoft DRM that didn't even let you keep music on a local drive for any extended period of time.
As far as the Nexus One, great. Let's run to a 3G network that is even smaller than the 3G network we're on. See how that works! AT&T, however, is just bad. They provide a bad experience on any phone they have because of their lack of investment and I'm looking forward to VZW getting the iPhone on LTE in the future.
Fragmentation will matter... any more fragmentation and you will have to develop for multiple Android systems to release the same program at the same time.

N/A says:

no dropped calls, but internet always not accessible at night!!! so annoying

mac morrison says:

i still basically get no 3G data in central london, or even edge, calls/texts/mms are fine. but anything going though payandgo.o2.co.uk (im on payand go, its idata.o2.co.uk i think on contract phones) forget it.
when you get cloud coverage its ok, and when i am at home on wifi im fine, but out and about forget it. this seems to have spread to zone 2 where i live now as well.
you can see 5 -10 iphone per train carriage in use / sight, and im sure there another 10 -20 in pockets/bags.
success has hosed the network
as i tweeted earlier in the week
an iPhone on O2 in london is like having a Porsche with no petrol.

dan says:

Doesn't really matter if it's iPhone or android /nexus 1phone -which I use @moment - O2 sucks as data carrier in Londom for all reasons mentioned above especially it not being a true 3G network. And it sure doesn't get better...