back to article O2's southeastern crash caused by 'well-organised theft'

O2's ongoing outage was down to a well-organised theft of networking kit, which engineers are struggling to replace while promising to connect customers by close of play. O2 customers in North and East London, Sussex and Kent are still without service following a break-in at one of the operator's unmanned sites. While clearly …


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  1. fLaMePrOoF
    Black Helicopters

    How furtunate...

    That they will now undoubtedly be able to lodge a substantial insurance claim and replace the kit before their main competitor Everything Everywhere get their shiny new upgrades from Huawei...

    1. Anomalous Cowturd

      Thieving gits!

      Full signal on handset, but no service. Dialling in gives, "Sorry, there is a fault. Please hang up"...

      Thought it was a bit too quiet today...

      3G is working though....

      I am pretty pissed off and what follows is accompanied by steam coming out of my ears, etc, etc.

  2. Heironymous Coward

    Elementary, my dear Watson...

    Cheap kit + make the competition look incompetent and piss off their customers. So, pray tell, which of the UK networks has been buying less kit than usual recently (other than Vodafone and O2)??

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      You need to look east of the EU-ex-CIS border towards the region where "engineering language" contains a lot of "p*zda" and "huj" for where the kit went.

      That is more or less the only place it goes in cases like this.

      They have the need for the kit and the _ABILITY_ to run it without support contract. The vendor software license police and vendor support contracts which _ALL_ UK (and EU) telecoms operators take makes using stolen proper telco kit practically impossible.

      That is also why kit stolen this way usually goes East instead of going LatAm or Africa as that is the only place where they have enough qualified people who do not work for a vendor, do not care where the kit came from and can run it and even modify it if necessary.

      Anon. For obvious reasons.

  3. Buzzword

    Any relation to recent events....

    ... in Libya? There aren't many other places in the world where a lorry-load of stolen mobile network gear would be useful, surely?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    high tech pickpockets

    Subcontract work which is then subcontracted several levels furthers and you end up with thief's wandering round your facility.

    Back in the day loyal staff just pilfered some stationary.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      RE: high tech pickpockets

      I'm pretty sure hardly anyone tries to steal equipment that's in motion.

      Oh wait, did you mean 'stationery'?

  5. Refugee from Windows

    Airwave anyone?

    This lot support this, and their kit could go missing leaving a hole in their communications. Plod, Trumpton and the meat wagons could be left in the dark.

    My coat's ready, there's a 2m band handheld in the pocket for when I get the call.

    1. Dave 64 Silver badge

      RE: Airwave

      Airwave spun out of O2 ages ago - it's a completely separate company, although there may be some commonality in the network (e.g. shared cable runs)

  6. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Occam's bolt cutters

    All the victims in these thefts have a vested interest in making it appear that they were turned over by master criminals or specialists, as this (somehow) reduces the burden of blame on them for having lax security and no failover/backup system.

    However, it's just as likely that the stuff was nicked by a casual thief with a hookey transit and a crow-bar, and the "swag" will end up on eBay or down the scrappy for the however-many pounds per ton that gash electronics fetches these days. Obviously that doesn't put the £billion telco in such a good light, when anyone can break into their critical network hubs and knock their services offline for a considerable period.

    Presumably if this had happened during Obama's visit next week it would be counted as a terrorist atrocity, or the conspiracy nuts would be having a field day with it. Maybe they still will?

  7. Dunstan Vavasour

    Reminds me of Sun kit around year 2000

    I remember a spate of similar thefts of Sun kit around the year 2000. The wrong-uns would steal the processor/memory and I/O boards from running E3500/4500/6500 systems - as there were no machine readable serial numbers inside, they could be used in any unpopulated system chassis. I'm guessing there were plenty of empty base units sold in the target territories. The advanced version, used in one particularly large heist, was to leave just enough hardware that the system would reboot and come up, but with little capacity.

    I'd be interested to know the make and generation of kit which disappeared here. Still, I supposed it makes a change from the trains being late because the copper in the signalling system was stolen.

  8. Matt 53

    That explains today's problems...

    Which in all fairness has only been a major problem for a few minutes on and off.

    Don't know if they can explain away 2 years of variable signal and/or full 3G coverage but no data in Herne Bay, though...

  9. Matt Bucknall

    This would happen...

    ...on the day I have a whole load of M2M equipment on O2 sims to test.

  10. Preppy82


    I was on the site last week and the targeted piece of kit takes 6months to be custom made.. The buyers will likely be from Russia and the Kit will be used to steal identities and hack into UK mainframes. These sites have 1 engineer and they are unmarked "unknown" sites. Security is very lapse considering the £billions of technical equipment on site and the £100'smillions of cost of downtime.

    1. Gordon 10

      Please tell us

      How and which mainframes can be hacked? Surely only O2 kit at most and then only the network side.

      The route used to get in would be fairly obvious as well.

  11. F'tangF'tang

    Disable 3G

    Just disabled 3G and the iPhone has a signal and is working... !!!!

    Why didnt I try that earlier... ?????

    1. Maliciously Crafted Packet

      This works, but why is it...

      that my mates who are on Orange and Voda don't have to jump through these hoops to get a decent signal, switching between 3G and EDGE seamlessly. Whilst those of us stuck on O2 have to turn off 3G in order to make a phone call?

  12. Alister

    dark net

    so... hypothetically, could someone set up a "private" mobile network using this kit (plus a radio mast or two)?

    1. Dave Bell


      Well, somebody has to say it.

      1. Alister


        Gives a whole new meaning to "dropped packets"

  13. Anonymous Coward


    Someone mentioned obama and terrorism, forget obama, surely this is a form of terrorism anyway as the theft and vandalism impacts so many people? Maybe if the government would "man up" and treat crimes like these appropriately rather than giving it to the local CID Detective Sergeant to add to his long list of burglaries (as happened in the Vodafone incident, still no arrests) the punishment would fit the crime and the turds responsible would actually get nicked and serve some appropriate time..

    (Fail because that's what I think of almost 3 months since the Vodafone break in and no arrests to speak of)

  14. druck Silver badge

    Re: This works, but why is it...

    Duh! Because the 3G signal from the masts is still there, but with no back end to provide a service. Your phone will only drop back to 2G if the 3G signal isn't available.

  15. Griz - Manchester

    Monitored Alarm ???

    Not in the industry, but my understanding was that remote mobile locations had monitored alarms and even cctv. Obviously pretty slack on the security. How long did it take to notice??? Were they asleep at the network operations centre?

    Seems to be a lot of basic unanswered questions here, and the O2 pr department has put a bit of spin on it to deflect this.

  16. Anonymous Coward


    It seems suprising that O2 (and presumably others) don't have an emergency roaming agreement with other operators for this sort of problem. Maybe it's a capacity problem, but surely the another operators could take the O2 load between them in return for some cash. I imagine it could even be transparent to end-users in the way Three phones use Orange when there is no Three coverage, yet the phone still shows the operator as Three.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Down

      It is impossible to have one

      SIMs have a so-called "prohibited network list". The original idea was to make sure that mobiles from other networks in the same country do not eat your signalling capacity by trying to sign up to your network.

      In any case, all SIMs from Voda, O2 have each other and Orange as prohibited. You cannot make these roam without replacing the SIM or editing the list which on most phones cannot be done over the air. I do not know where does TOrange stand on that (been a while since I have done GSM). 3 probably does not have a list or it has only some of other operators as it has to roam onto 2G sometimes.

      As far as mandatory roaming that is a jolly good idea. However every time this has been put in front of OfCom it has gotten nowhere. The underlying reason is that mandatory roaming implies interconnect tariffs which make calling any network or data from/to any network equal. This will give a non-discriminatory position to any new entrant. They can start with partial coverage and if the roaming is mandatory and non-discriminatory they can operate an offering. That is simply not going to happen and the mobiles have a point there because they used to have coverage covenants on their license.

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