back to article Three-yaarrgh! Major UK mobile network's data goes down

British mobile network Three is having data issues this morning, cutting its subscribers off from the internet. Despite having no access to the web, frustrated users still managed to tweet about how annoyed they were to be kicked offline: This AM @ThreeUK rolled out their new 0G internet to a few thousand London customers. …


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  1. Pete the not so great

    it got me, but it's back now


    1. Danny 14

      Re: it got me, but it's back now

      Heh. I thought it was me. I flashed my phone this morning with a new firmware. I didnt wipe the phone though just the caches. I wondered why I had no mobile internet and spent an hour faffing with APNs. A few reboots later and it started working.

      Seems it wasnt me afterall!

  2. Microchip

    Back here too.

  3. Woodgie

    I'm Brian, and so's my wife.

    Except that she had problems and I didn't.

    Now if only there was a stop/go icon.


    1. DAN*tastik

      Re: I'm Brian, and so's my wife.

      I hope you knew she was Brian before marrying her

    2. Pete the not so great

      Re: I'm Brian, and so's my wife.

      Brianetta post op?

  4. DAN*tastik

    How long after discovering was it that they started tweeting?

    Things go wrong, half a day or a full one can be a pain in the arse, but seriously? How many people were really affected by it? By affecting, I don't mean unable to tweet - which they managed anyway, I am talking about serious stuff...

    There are cases of compensation because people trip in their own shoe laces now. Could this be a new reason for litigation soon?

    "I couldn't instagram my breakfast this morning, all my friends started tweeting pictures of flowers with BEST CONDULENSIS LOLZ!!!1!! captions because they could only assume I was dead".

    1. Tony Carter-Inman

      Re: How long after discovering was it that they started tweeting?

      Only affected in the fact that I couldn't retrieve the emails I needed for his morning's meeting.

      Don't have a company provided phone/laptop, so am not allowed access to their wifi. Best they can offer is Outlook Web Access over the internet.

      Was only an issue for 30 minutes though, as I just used one of the other attendees computers to log into my email and get the data that way.

      1. bigtimehustler

        Re: How long after discovering was it that they started tweeting?

        Errr, so the problem here lies with your company. If you can't get those notes for your meeting, you tell them its because they don't let you get on their wifi and the system they do offer is unreliable, so here is the business cost of that.

  5. Tony Carter-Inman

    Mine - in West London - was off from about 8am to 11am.

    All working normally now (i.e. 2-3 bars and 3Mbps download on speedtest, but less when actually downloading a file).

    Contract ends in a few days, so might have to see what Three are offering, as a quick look on their website seems to show my current One Plan tariff has gone up 30% (currently £36/month, new plan is £46/month)!

    1. Microchip

      Worth looking at SIM-free if you're happy with what you've got.

      They're doing the one plan for £15 a month on SIM only. Can't beat it for the cash really.

      1. Frank Long

        Re: Worth looking at SIM-free if you're happy with what you've got.

        Indeed, also includes virtually unlimited calls + texts, internet and tethering. 12 month plan though.

        Those phone subsidies don't come cheap. Get yourself a 5S for £41/month and £99 down upfront and you're looking at £1083 for a locked phone and 2 years tie in.

        Get the sim only deal for £15 a month (over 24 months) and the unlocked phone and you're looking at £909, a fairly hefty £174 saving. Savings get even bigger with the 64GB model, which is £240 more expensive over the contract period, but £160 more expensive direct from Apple, giving a saving of £254.

        1. bigtimehustler

          Re: Worth looking at SIM-free if you're happy with what you've got.

          This isn't really rocket science is it, doesn't everyone know that, for example, buying a car in cash is cheaper than getting a loan? It is the same principle, the £174 is basically the interest they charge on loaning you the money to own the phone sooner than you would if you had the cash in hand.

          1. Danny 14

            Re: Worth looking at SIM-free if you're happy with what you've got.

            I used to be on that deal but am going to switch to PAYG on orange. I found I am rarely using over 1gb a month so the £10 a month pays nicely for 1gb - you still get minutes per month and the £10 is also credit for other stuff.

            Not sure what orange signal is like yet though.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Worth looking at SIM-free if you're happy with what you've got.

              Look very carefully if going for Orange, They sting with their 35p/min (rounded up to whole minute) charge for listening to voicemail (even on their SIM-only contract). Yes, I'm bitter!

        2. Seabridgeman

          Re: Worth looking at SIM-free if you're happy with what you've got.

          If you get a new phone on a 24 month plan, you can get it unlocked after a short time. Just contact Three. I use mine in 6 countries and no problem.

    2. MrXavia

      Keep current phone and go sim only! I'm on the one plan and thats my plan, £15/month! bargin

      Only time I get a higher cost contract is when it works out cheaper than buying sim only + phone over the contract period.

  6. jb99

    Slightly affected.

    It meant I couldn't read my work email on the way to work and couldn't read some web pages I wanted to (not for work). Not entirely happy...

    But it's fairly reliable normally. I've had few problems over the last two years.

    A short outage every year... big deal.

    If this happened several times a year I'd be unhappy. But it hasn't.

  7. Infidellic_

    Not far from business as usual

    At home in Hampshire (and more generally in populous areas outside of London) I typically get >= 12 Mbps from Three regularly. In the square mile, South Bank, Oxford St etc this often drops to < 0.75 Mbps and is barely useable (lots of timeouts etc). So as far as I'm concerned the lack of t'interwebs in London is business as usual

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not far from business as usual

      That is london for you, depending where you are you'll get amazing speeds or next to nothing, and that goes for all networks, not just three, actually I find three one of the best in london, yet vodafone I had to drop back to 2g to even get my emails most of the time!

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I was affected..

    ..huge traffic jams on one of my routes to work. With Waze offline, I didn't know to take another route. 25 minutes late..

  9. Callam McMillan

    That would explain why I had a strong signal, but no data. Most irritating.

    Given that your phone has to register with a cell tower, I wonder why they couldn't send you a text telling you that there is a problem when you enter the affected area?

    1. JetSetJim

      > Given that your phone has to register with a cell tower, I wonder why they couldn't send you a text telling you that there is a problem when you enter the affected area?

      Because your phone doesn't have to register with an individual tower if it's not doing anything. Instead it registers on the Location or Routeing Area, which can be a large collection of towers covering a reasonably large geographical area. In theory you could still probably do something, but it wouldn't be that cheap to implement on the expensive big boxes in the middle of their network.

      In terms of "having a strong signal, but no data", basically it means that the 2G side of things was probably working fine - so making calls may have been perfectly OK (I don't know, and the article doesn't say). But as 3 piggyback on 2G networks (I forget whose) and have their own 3G network, it's not that much of a surprise that if their 3G network falls over all the impacted subscribers can still fall back onto the 2G network.

      1. Alan_Peery

        I don't think 3 uses any 2G service any longer

        They used to piggyback on one of the other services early in their corporate life, but I recall reading of the termination of their 2G contract. Oddly enough, it was about the time when my mobile service at home went from "OK everywhere in the house" to "barely passable, make calls upstairs".

        Only reason I stuck with them as long as I did was they were the only ones offering unlimited 3G data at the time of my last contract renewal...

        1. JetSetJim

          Re: I don't think 3 uses any 2G service any longer

          Apparently they still have a little bit of 2G, but it depends on where you are. They started disconnecting from 2G in some areas back in 2010:

  10. taxman

    Slow News Day

    Well, nothing in my life is that important that it can't wait a life or death decisions nor contractual financial penalties. News, info....well there isn't much going on that effects folk is there that can't wait a bit.

    Traffic jams happen, getting late in for work happens. Enjoy loking at the outside world. You never know, you may see something new.

    Don't read anything work related when out of work - I'm not getting paid then!

    Having a break from 'instant communication' can be a blessing.

    Oh, and no impact here in the West Midlands

    1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

      Re: Slow News Day

      Totally agree..

      How did we ever survive without it (!)


      (apologies for twatterism)

    2. spudmasterflex

      Re: Slow News Day

      Thats funny you should say no impact in the West Midlands.

      I did an overnight in Birmingham Tuesday night and from 8am Wednesday I had no data connection all the way up to Leeds, then around 11am I had patchy connection, by 12 all was ok,

  11. jeremyjh

    Mine too

    I don't know when/if it started working again, as I'm using work's wifi. But I can tell you that it went off for me at 0910. I was on the bus, using Personal Hotspot, and suddenly found that I wasn't any more.

  12. Jess--

    knocked out in lincolnshire at around 8:30 this morning, working again now

  13. Vince

    Fortunately I'm not having issues - I'm in a relatively remote area today and normally it's a bit hit and miss here for any network, but oddly my 3 service is going great guns today and giving me plenty of data and speed even with the faintest bit of signal.

    So if you could all keep off the interwebs I'm doing good ta.

  14. TwistUrCapBack

    Couldnt read the reg

    Couldn't read el reg on the train into work this morn ..

    Slightly irritating but normally have a good service from 3 ..

    On a PAYG sim at £15 a month, for 300 mins and 3000 texts and All you can eat data.

    Cant grumble

  15. bailey86

    It was DNS wot dunnit for me

    Seemed to been a DNS issue. My laptop which was connected via the phones hotspot could ping IP's etc.

    Changed the DNS server settings to Googles and it was fine after that.

    1. Chris King

      Re: It was DNS wot dunnit for me

      I lost all connectivity while this happened, not just DNS - couldn't connect to anything by IP address, ping didn't work etc, but things were back to normal before lunchtime.

  16. Robert Harrison

    Information is king

    Struggled to get mobile data access til about 11am-ish. It's a shame that the outage was not mentioned on three's site alongside their planned maintenance section which simply stated 'no planned maintenance in your area' (or thereabouts). Is it difficult to keep users informed?

  17. grammarpolice

    Not so hard

    When Virgin sods up my cable connection yet again, I can always rant about it via 3G. So why shouldn't the reverse be true? Likewise I can go use a connection at work or round a friend's.

    Quite a lot of people have more than one way of connecting to the Internet, old chap.

  18. spegru

    Had this yesterday

    Could be unrelated, but I had no web email or play store around 6:30pm in the City and outward toward Essex on the Train.

    I thought, this remeinds me of what sometimes happens on Wifi with my BT homehub3

    So I switched my mobile data of and then on again - and all was well again


  19. bigtimehustler

    The comment about tweeting cat pictures instead of fixing the issue is nonsense, or does the guy/girl really think the person doing the tweeting is the engineer fixing the problem? Other parts of a business do carry on running as normal you know, even if the engineers are flat out trying to fix something.

  20. Velv

    "Despite having no access to the web, frustrated users still managed to tweet about how annoyed they were to be kicked offline:"

    Err, Twitter is available from more than just phones. Like a good old fashioned PC or Mac connected to a wire.

    Or by SMS if you've set it up, and SMS was still working.

  21. GettinSadda

    Affected me in the north of Scotland.

    Was a real pain too as I discovered that a major road was blocked due to flooding and I had to take a huge detour. Using Waze as sat-nav works great... except when no signal. Google maps no good either! Also I discovered I didn't have the phone number of the person I was due to see and no way to search for it.

    We really are too reliant on modern tech!

    1. F'tangF'tang

      Online Sat Nav

      Google and Apple Maps didn't work, but I was saved by NavFree which worked just fine offline...

      (Realised 3 was off at about 7:15 am as I went to download the Metro in North London, and was off in the City till about midday)...

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    90 miles / signal but no Internet

    It was out, for me, from 7am to 11.30 across a network spanning > 90 miles both in London and out into North Essex / Suffolk. Three customer service is very poor. Not least a simple page saying there was an outage and providing an update would be nice. I don't really want to have to keep going to Twitter and searching for @ThreeUKSupport just to find out everyone else is affected. And to answer some questions raised, phone services were working, just not Internet access - so a simple text would have been enough to calm it all down...they seem to be able to send a text when they want to sell me something...

  23. Greg D

    no problems here

    I have to say Three have been the most reliable network I've been on - and I've used them all (whether personal or company phone). Hassle free on my personal phone for a good 6 years now.

    Data is, bar none, the fastest there is on mobile - well maybe except EE 4G now, but coverage is limited and speeds aren't THAT impressive in metropolitan areas.

    My friends, by comparison, have chopped and changed networks with each phone they get, constantly whinging about speed, coverage and downtime. That was till I convinced them to go to Three.

    Ok grovelling over.

  24. Sandy Ritchie


    I'm so angry.... my internet goes down for nearly 3 hours, this isn't good enough! This is just the icing on the cake of no issues in the last 5 years that makes me want to leave 3.

    On no! Wait a minute, 3 hours downtimes in 5 years, and it wasn't even that bad as it was just my data that didn't work for 3 hours (I could still call and txt). Heck I think I might just stay a loyal 3 customer, especially when they've rolled out that free 4g update across the UK.

    Phew, lucky I didn't do an el reg bitch fit and insta quit and flame 3 for their cheap and cheerful service.

  25. Yugguy

    I've never had anything else but trouble with Three.

  26. rar

    Three say everything is okay now, but still no Data here in Cumbria Thursday am.

  27. Accelebrate

    I can forgive 3...

    ...The first outage I can remember since I moved to them in 2010. However all is forgiven after I used 1.5GB of data in the states last week without any incurring any costs above my normal £15 monthly payment for The One Plan.

    To put it in context my colleagues on O2 would have been charged £9216 for the same amount of data!

  28. Chris Mathews, SysMech

    Telcos need to be better at customer experience management

    Interesting article - customer experience management should be considered at every step of the process for CSPs to achieve the promise of ‘anytime, anywhere’. Some, however, are clearly on the back foot and struggling - as we can see from the power of a tweet. Customers will not put up with poor service and telcos must do better: experience, experience, experience.

  29. MelniboneanAirways

    YoYo specialists!

    Down again in Edinburgh it would appear, has been intermittent and mostly swinging from sub 512K to nowt for several days now.

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