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Wireless Networking Bug Communications Crime United Kingdom Technology News

O2's UK Network Crash Hits Offender Monitoring System 56

Posted by timothy
from the feel-free-to-move-about-the-cabin dept.
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."
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O2's UK Network Crash Hits Offender Monitoring System

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  • 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.

    • by Chrisq (894406) on Saturday July 14, 2012 @05:07AM (#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!

      • by Anonymous Coward

        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 transc

        • by nospam007 (722110) * on Saturday July 14, 2012 @05:36AM (#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.

          • by Anonymous Coward

            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 charge

            • by aaarrrgggh (9205)

              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

        • by Chrisq (894406)

          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.

        • "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.

          • 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!

    • by Anonymous Coward

      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.

    • Oops... mistkanely moderated as flame bait. This post is to remove that.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 14, 2012 @04:48AM (#40647019)

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

  • 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.

  • 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'.


  • 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.

  • by Higgs Bosun (2676655) on Saturday July 14, 2012 @06:03AM (#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 :(

    • 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.

      • Completely agree. I demand 66p compensation.

      • by Kjella (173770)

        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 wi

        • 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.

        • 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 p

  • Why not roaming? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 14, 2012 @06:18AM (#40647197)

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

    • 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.

    • by JustOK (667959)

      There's no roam like home.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Igloodude (710950)
      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.
    • by isorox (205688)

      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.

      • by toriver (11308)

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

  • 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?"
  • 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 accelera

    • 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)

  • 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

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