O2 has said it its ripping out its Ericsson HLR systems (*Note, see amendment) after two failures caused loss of services to customers resulting in reputational and financial damage to the operator. The first outage happened in July 2012, shortly before the onset of the London Olympics, and a further outage late last week seems to have brought the axe down on Ericsson's role in this part of the O2 network.
CTO Derek McManus, writing on a company blog, said, "We are removing the Central User Database provided by one of our suppliers, which has suffered two different faults in the last few months. We are not prepared to risk this happening to our customers for a third time and are implementing a proven alternative solution."
That central user database refers to the Ericsson-supplied database, that provides subscriber data to elements such as HLRs, that was blamed by O2 for its July outage. The company is spending £10 million on a replacement solution. McManus did not say who the new "proven" provider is or whether the company would be seeking compensation from Ericsson.
Following the first outage, O2 added 10% extra credit to PAYG users and discounted 10% from the bills of all affected contract holders for the month of September.
AMENDMENT, 19:25pm, 17/10/12:
Ericsson has asked us to point out that it is not Ericsson's HLR that is being replaced, but the Central User Database that is being taken out of action. As we say in the article, but don't say in the headline or first sentence, the Central User Database is, as it sounds, a central subscriber database that can be accessed by other elements in the network, including the HLR. Ericsson's HLR will remain in use in the network, but not the CUD. In other words, this is a failure not of the HLR but of the configuration of the CUD, which was in turn causing the HLRs to be unable to register users to the network.
Ericsson sent the following statement, the wording of which we understand to have been agreed with O2. The key element is probably that O2 is now "moving to classic HLR" rather than the CUD architecture.
"With reference to the O2 UK network disruption on Friday October 12, 2012 Ericsson can confirm that we, as a key supplier, worked closely with our customer to identify any contributing factors and immediately took necessary actions. The fault was fixed on the same afternoon. The issue was identified to be related to how the equipment was configured.
"O2 are moving to classic HLR which Ericsson has provided for many years in the network and continues to do so. We continue to work closely with O2 to ensure that service integrity is maintained."