O2 outage caused by Ericsson software fault

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Millions of citizens in the United Kingdom were unable to use their mobile phones to call, text or use 4G on a number of mobile service providers, due to expired certificates, it was confirmed on Thursday.

Ericsson, which builds most of the backend tech for the majority of cellular network providers, said the downtime was caused by an expired certificated in a version of its management software that some EU-based telecommunications companies use.

In order to restore the service, certificates to all affected core network nodes need to be reissued.

"During December 6, 2018, Ericsson has identified an issue in certain nodes in the core network resulting in network disturbances for a limited number of customers in multiple countries using two specific software versions of the SGSN–MME (Serving GPRS Support Node – Mobility Management Entity)," Ericsson said, adding that a ‘limited number of customers’ were affected.

“An initial root cause analysis indicates that the main issue was an expired certificate in the software versions installed with these customers. A complete and comprehensive root cause analysis is still in progress. Our focus is now on solving the immediate issues.”

The biggest network that was affected by the error was O2, but also included other networks that rely on O2: GiffGaff, Sky Mobile, Lyca, and Tesco Mobile.

"During the course of December 6, most of the affected customers’ network services have been successfully restored," Ericsson continued. "We are working closely with the remaining customers that are still experiencing issues."

But it’s not just consumer usage that was affected. Some services were also disrupted, like the Transport for London or the NHS, both of which couldn’t offer full service during the time.

Image source: Shutterstock/ Supphachai Salaeman