Gold'en Rant : Mobile phone services in Sheffield - w'happened?

It has been raining quite a bit this week, especially in the city of Sheffield, where yours truly lives and works. Aside from the eye-poppingly tragic events that occurred in the east of the city earlier this week, the flooding problems have not affected the Gold household too much.

Except when it comes to mobile phones. All four of the main GSM networks went into meltdown mode around lunchtime on Monday and only really started working properly on Tuesday early evening.

You'd think this was understandable, given the nature of the flooding catastrophe that hit the city at the start of the week.

But cellular meltdown with dropped and failed calls isn't supposed to happen when a catastrophe strikes.

Under carefully defined major incident rules, each mobile phone SIM card has a security level - a seclev - applied to it at issue.

In the event of a serious network overloading problem being anticipated by the emergency services, a centralised instruction goes out to all cell sites on all networks in the affected area - lock out all handsets with a given or lower seclev from the network.

This allows priority to be given to mobiles operated by the emergency services and other important people - who, of course, have higher seclev SIM cards.

It also stops civilians from wasting cellular resources by making calls which cannot be processed and so overloading the network.

Except in Sheffield on June the 25th and 26th, it didn't happen. Even the emergency services had problems, I gather, making and receiving cellular calls.

So what happened to the major incident call prioritisation system?

From where I'm stood, it didn't get switched on. Nil points are therefore awarded to the cellular networks for this failure...