×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

O2's UK Network Crash Hits Offender Monitoring System

timothy posted about 2 years ago | from the feel-free-to-move-about-the-cabin dept.

Wireless Networking 56

judgecorp writes "Mobile operator O2's network crashed on Wednesday and Thursday of this week. In the aftermath it has emerged how other services rely on mobile networks. Law enforcement agencies were unable to track some convicted criminals wearing electronic tags, and the crash also disabled parts of London's network of 'Boris Bikes' — public hire bikes."

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

56 comments

Good on them (0)

Kergan (780543) | about 2 years ago | (#40646997)

We also had a crash in France recently (Orange was down for a whole day), and it made little to no difference on anyone's life -- except control freaks who had to know where you were all the time, and those in need of emergency services.

Re:Good on them (4, Funny)

Chrisq (894406) | about 2 years ago | (#40647055)

We also had a crash in France recently (Orange was down for a whole day), and it made little to no difference on anyone's life -- except control freaks who had to know where you were all the time

i bet that's what the monitored criminals were saying!

Re:Good on them (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40647075)

If someone needs to have their every movement tracked, they shouldn't be out of prison.

But now we know why these monitoring systems exist in the first place: O2 lobbied the government (and probably gave a nice donation/backhander).

Anyway, if you're relying on a single consumer mobile network for anything life-critical, you're an idiot. If you're going to carry around /one/ communications device for that sort of thing, spend a weekend getting your Foundation level ham licence and buy a general UHF/VHF transceiver. If you really want a complete kit, add a dual-SIM mobile 'phone.

It doesn't help, of course, that the emergency services have switched to yet another waste of hundreds of millions of pounds thanks again to O2: the Tetra network. Not because it would be proper to use their emergency frequencies, but because it is right that public service communications are open, compatible and require no infrastructure. Then everyone can hear everyone else in their allotted spaces.

Re:Good on them (4, Funny)

nospam007 (722110) | about 2 years ago | (#40647103)

"Anyway, if you're relying on a single consumer mobile network for anything life-critical, you're an idiot."

Indeed, solar flares usually inflict damage only on corrupt carriers.
Wait 'til the electricity goes down, most people are so idiotic that they use only one provider there too.

Re:Good on them (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40647129)

Sarcasm is no substitute for a clue.

1) Solar flares are unlikely to cause continual overwhelming wideband interference;

2) Anyway, you can't beat the laws of physics, but you can choose the best available solution. And the best available solution is rarely that provided by leeching government contractors;

3) My portable devices are battery-powered. If you're going anywhere remote, you should at the least carry some backup power (whether that's a second cell, your car battery, or a wind-up/trickle solar charger). And if you need to plug your 'phones/transceivers into the mains power, it's time to upgrade. And if any of your devices have non-removable batteries, you're an idiot.

Re:Good on them (1)

aaarrrgggh (9205) | about 2 years ago | (#40647779)

You were doing ok until the non-removable battery bit. Only an idiot needs to swap batteries. Yes, I own a iPhone. Despite being on the phone for up to five hours per day, I have never needed to charge other than at night on my bedside table.

When I lived in a place where power was extremely unreliable, I had an external battery pack in case I spent more time using it for Internet access, or if power was out all night. There are plenty of such gizmos out there that are arguably more reliable and flexible than an extra phone battery.

Re:Good on them (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40647943)

You mean I was doing ok until I offended the Cult of Dead Steve[tm].

While you can always carry an external device to recharge/replace the internal battery, this i) is either slower or clumsier than simply swapping out batteries; ii) creates another point of failure.

Perhaps I treat my portable devices better than the average Apple customer, but the battery is almost always the first thing to fail in everything I use, simply reaching the expected limit of recharge cycles.

Re:Good on them (1)

SternisheFan (2529412) | about 2 years ago | (#40648101)

My main reason for wanting devices with removable batteries is that these things all have some form of communication ability, and any hacker with the right equipment can turn on a device that's "off". But not if I can pull the battery out! And I want that ability. Also, having a couple extra charged batteries for my phone where no ac is means I don't have to worry about using the thing like I want to.

Re:Good on them (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40649869)

I know one of my mobiles is on when it's off. I don't know whether this applies to the iPhone, but I would expect so.

Yours is indeed another good reason not to use a device without a removable battery. Even if you 100% trust everyone, there's still the basic fact that a battery connected to a device will trickle-discharge at a higher rate than an electrically isolated battery.

But Apple users don't think of this sort of thing. They're not interested in good, just good enough. And they certainly wouldn't dream of going anywhere that self-reliance is required.

Anecdote: one of the partners at my surgery recently tried to switch to an iPhone for arranging appointments. It was embarrassing watching her take three times as long as on her old desktop to enter information and wait for confirmation. I impolitely enquired whether she was actually going to be entering any medically sensitive data into a device over which she had so little control. And this in a country which has rightly celebrated its rejection of the NHS "spine" project and pretty much every awful attempt to centralise control of health information.

Re:Good on them (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40651491)

"Wait 'til the electricity goes down, most people are so idiotic that they use only one provider there too."

Due to the monopoly situation of electric power distribution, I can't get another provider. But, I do have backup systems. If the electric company's power to my apartment shuts off, the computers run off battery power. If the main electric is off for more than 1/2 hour, my computers shut down gracefully. (Yes, I test this monthly.)

If I were in charge of critical systems, I'd have an even better backup system than that for those systems.

Re:Good on them (1)

Chrisq (894406) | about 2 years ago | (#40647293)

If someone needs to have their every movement tracked, they shouldn't be out of prison.

I agree absolutely, but where this should be used is where it is a punishment and deterrent, not to prevent people who are likely to commit another crime. In this case all they need to do is add an extra day on the end to make up for the one when they were not monitored.

Re:Good on them (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40647313)

If someone needs to have their every movement tracked, they shouldn't be out of prison.

God I hope this didn't let any Muzzies get away.

Re:Good on them (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 2 years ago | (#40648031)

"If someone needs to have their every movement tracked, they shouldn't be out of prison."

It's cheaper to have them out then locked up.

Re:Good on them (1)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about 2 years ago | (#40649187)

Tracking bracelets of grid? I see the opener for the next season of "White Collar".

If they were "Ken Bikes" you wouldn't have to pay!

Curse you, Barclays!

Re:Good on them (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40647287)

On GSM (2G), emergency calls can be made without a SIM card present in the mobile phone. Any available network can be used as GSM has special support for handling emergency calls. Sometimes your mobile will show "Emergency calls only" because if cannot find your service provider (or roaming partner). The emergency number is 112.

Re:Good on them (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40649161)

Probably happened during the day, while you were all asleep.

--
A German taxpayer

Re:Good on them (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40650811)

"it made little to no difference on anyone's life -- except control freaks who had to know where you were all the time"

I bet that's what all the other monitored criminals were saying as well!

It was a horrible day... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40647019)

...I actually had to meet my friends face to face and use full sentences

Re:It was a horrible day... (2)

mwvdlee (775178) | about 2 years ago | (#40647289)

Imagine having to go around to total strangers and "liking" them with a thumbs up.

Sounds like an Ocean's 19 Olympics heist trial run (3, Funny)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about 2 years ago | (#40647037)

Convicted Criminals on Boris Bikes . . . unable to be tracked!

We'll see their true intent during the Olympics, when the Crown Jewels or something like that are five-fingered.

Evidence of Progress (1)

foobsr (693224) | about 2 years ago | (#40647063)

it has emerged how other services rely on mobile networks

In times when people were able to plan ahead instead of having to confirm each and every date and action (of course by cellphone) immediately before execution one would have said 'gave evidence of how other services rely on mobile networks'.

CC.

WHA !! CRIMINALS UNTRACKED !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40647091)

It's a good thing criminals are all locked up until they go straight !! Imagine the chaos, anarchy, if the penal system turned them out the same as they went, or made them worse !! Imagine !!

Clearly a dry run (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 2 years ago | (#40647145)

Obviously a test for when the chavs go rioting, the moon cultists revolt, or there's a bank run or something.

If anyone thinks this was down to technical fault I've got a bridge for sale.

Re:Clearly a dry run (1)

Goaway (82658) | about 2 years ago | (#40647695)

The lack of evidence alone is proof of a conspiracy!

Re:Clearly a dry run (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40649451)

Why is there no evidence? Because there's a cover-up, that's whu&*&) ';#
no carrier

Finally, news of some proper consequences (5, Insightful)

Higgs Bosun (2676655) | about 2 years ago | (#40647155)

Now we're finally hearing of the important consequences of O2's network being down. I couldn't help but be irritated at how this was being reported in the news. Hysterical accounts of how Joe. Q. Public couldn't use their mobile. One news paper even found it news worthy to report that someone on twitter said they missed a phone call from their daughter! Wow, that really sounds like a living nightmare. Of course, there is also the inevitable talk of compensation... SPOILER: most people use their phones for inconsequential, inane yacking. For most people mobiles are a convenient toy they can live without. I hope it was just the news stirring things up and that we haven't all been reduced to being whiny cry babies. My mobile was affected (GiffGaff) but somehow I managed to deal with it and get on with life.

My sympathy is entirely with the engineers who would have certainly been under immense pressure to get this fixed ASAP, and to also provide a totally useless "ETA to resolution". Urgh, I've been there :(

Re:Finally, news of some proper consequences (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40647215)

I think the big problem is manufacturers are pushing more M2M technology which relies on these networks so when these networks go down... well, M2M systems do too.

Re:Finally, news of some proper consequences (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | about 2 years ago | (#40647301)

Those manufacturers should have made a proper risk analysis before committing.
I don't think O2 (or any other mobile provider) guarentees 100% uptime, so anybody using it known absolutely certain that there will be downtime.

Re:Finally, news of some proper consequences (4, Insightful)

Richard_at_work (517087) | about 2 years ago | (#40647233)

The demand for compensation is amusing, as most people don't pay more than £30 a month for service - so a 3 day outage corresponds to £3 of service fees, and yet I've seen people demanding O2 pay them £50 or more for their inconvenience. Today's compensation culture is laughable and more than a little disgusting.

Re:Finally, news of some proper consequences (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40647253)

Fool. It's the value of the *downstream* implications that matter.

If you use £1.00 of energy to cook £300.00 of food does that make the food worth £1.00???

Today's corporate apologist culture is laughable and more than a little disgusting.

Re:Finally, news of some proper consequences (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40647339)

No, it makes your contract with the energy company worth £1.00 so that would be the value of your compensation for breach of that contract.

Re:Finally, news of some proper consequences (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | about 2 years ago | (#40647343)

Fool? Sorry, but no service provider is on the hook for anything other than provision of service - your gas or electricity going out does not alter the value of the food you were going to cook, but it also doesn't put the gas or electricity provider on the hook for that value either.

What you are suggesting is *very* close to the anti-piracy arguments made time after time - possible activity does not equal activity lost...

Re:Finally, news of some proper consequences (1)

Kjella (173770) | about 2 years ago | (#40647393)

If I'm off on vacation and the electricity goes out for 3 days so all my food spoils, I could very well have £50 in losses even though £3 in electricity was all they failed to deliver. While companies in general disclaim actual damages - as well as every other kind of damage - it could still be money out of my pocket that I lost due to their poor service so I can understand people being angry and wanting compensation. Imaging if this was a SLA, would you pay 90% of the normal cost for servers with 90% uptime? Hell no, you'd have huge penalties for outages like that. Unfortunately most consumer SLAs says that you'll get as much service as they please and if they want to fuck you over you better lube up and bend over. Unfortunately reliability costs and if people aren't paying for it, they're not going to get it.

Re:Finally, news of some proper consequences (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40647761)

In the Netherlands, if the power goes out long enough that your food spoils, you can replace it at the expense of the power company (within reason -- if you have enough perishables to feed 12 people and you're a 2 person household, you won't get it all refunded).

Re:Finally, news of some proper consequences (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | about 2 years ago | (#40648091)

If the electricity goes out and food spoils, then you claim on your home contents insurance - thats exactly what I did in those circumstances, and thats what its there for.

And an SLA is an entirely different thing - you *pay* for an SLA, most of the time through the nose, for the terms under to be onerous for the provider.

Re:Finally, news of some proper consequences (1)

Higgs Bosun (2676655) | about 2 years ago | (#40648687)

Services going off are just a part of life. I don't expect to claim compensation when I burn more fuel stuck in roadworks, or for when I have to buy bottled water because the mains are turned off for emergency repairs. Not having phone service for two days that you've paid for is inconvenient, but the mobile networks seem to do well enough when it comes to uptime. I've had a mobile for 12 years and I've only ever noticed the service being down two maybe three times. YMMV but that's been my experience on a plain consumer contract.

If we get compensated for the slightest outage all that'll happen is costs will go up and lawyers will get rich writing up the rules about when and how compo gets paid out. I'm not in favour of doing things that end up just making lawyers richer, they're doing alright as is! But I wouldn't challenge the claim that regular people do get financially dinged a lot by employers and organisations when it comes to charges for "damages", unusual requests, etc. I'm not a corporate apologist.

Re:Finally, news of some proper consequences (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40647543)

Damn... the sociopath are out in force today...

Why not roaming? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40647197)

Why were these 'critical' systems not set to automatically roam to another network if their 'home' network becomes unavailable?

Re:Why not roaming? (1)

SimonTheSoundMan (1012395) | about 2 years ago | (#40647257)

Good question. Most devices I use have either 4 or 7 SIM cards. The tagging is privatised to G4S so it is whatever is the cheapest solution, so no redundancy may be one of the reasons to why they only used one network.

Re:Why not roaming? (3, Informative)

Igloodude (710950) | about 2 years ago | (#40647325)

Because the roaming network passes the authentication request to the home network HLR - so if the home network HLR is down, the roaming network doesn't know if the SIM can be allowed on its network.

Re:Why not roaming? (1)

isorox (205688) | about 2 years ago | (#40647515)

Why were these 'critical' systems not set to automatically roam to another network if their 'home' network becomes unavailable?

I was away in Belgium for the day, my phone worked in the morning, but died just after lunch. Tried the 3 or 4 networks in Brussels that were available, none worked, as if the account had been turned off.

Re:Why not roaming? (1)

toriver (11308) | about 2 years ago | (#40647867)

The Belgian networks probably wanted to verify your account with the O2 servers and they failed to reply.

their awesome suggestion (1)

slashmydots (2189826) | about 2 years ago | (#40647825)

Did anyone else find it hilarious that they're British and their recommendation to anyone still having problem is basically "Hello, IT. Have you tried turning it off and then back on again?"

When the network went down I was... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40648205)

Replacing the battery in my iPhone. Started with a working phone. Took it to bits, new battery, put it back together, turned it on. NO SIGNAL!!!! Freaked. Thanks O2, that was the last straw. I've changed provider now.

Private Sector Incompetence (1)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | about 2 years ago | (#40648413)

RBS systems down for over a month. G4S needing the military to provide Oylimpic security coverage. And now O2 entire netowrk goes down for 24 hours.

More and more we are seeing the end results of private sector incompetence. Large companies, run by feckless playboys and professional bullshitters, cutting costs at every turn, slowly crumbling from the inside out.

It's like an accelerated private sector version of the collapse of the Soviet Union, and it is happening across the IT/service economy at an accelerating pace. How long before a major news network, private hospital, transport network, or airline goes belly up entirely and needs the public to step in any bail it out once again?

Forget "Too Big to Fail". It appears these companies are "Too Big to Succeed". I don't see why they should be given special privileges and handouts anymore, or in particular why any significant portion of our societies infrastructure must be placed in their care.

These companies should either be nationalised, or else wound up.

Re:Private Sector Incompetence (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40650645)

What are you talking about? Capitalism had already failed by the 1920s. Our economy is thoroughly mixed.

Or was until the 1980s, anyway.

The people who remembered the bad times had died, the kids thought they'd have another stab, and now it's failing in the same way once again.

Insure competition seems preferred (1)

jago25_98 (566531) | about 2 years ago | (#40654353)

I agree, but the solution of
"These companies should either be nationalised, or else wound up."
Seems to be working within a dualistic communism vs capitalism way of looking at life.

How's about using the market to get results and then if that's not possible (but I think there always is, just need to work hard at finding a way to allow competition within a big system), then fall back to the state systems
(that are inefficient because they don't have evolution-like free market economics oiling the wheels)

Re:Private Sector Incompetence (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40660755)

RBS was nationalised in 2008

The plot thickens (1)

NSN A392-99-964-5927 (1559367) | about 2 years ago | (#40649545)

Well before /. it is black boxes being installed on lines and emergency secret powers exercised by the UK gov under anti terrorism legislation so phone calls can be monitored to prevent terrorism at the Olympics. British Telecom owns the lines and the government controls communication devices.

Please do not be fooled because this is being done underhandedly to spy on P2P traffic so under emergency anti-terrorism powers this is where we have ended up despite legal wranglings. The law states, that the British Government can do anything they like if on the qualifying legal basis "If is deemed (Within the Public's best Interests)".

In layman terms legally the government can do anything they like and decide your future as long as it is "" (within your best interests).

That is why people protest. I am sure another slashdot reader or journalist can give extra credit to this by adding citations as truly I do not have the time!

Yours as always,

NSN

Check for New Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...