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May 17, 2011

O2 services restored after equipment theft

by Brian Turner

O2 mobile network services have been restored for London and the South East, after thieves stole expensive routing and switching equipment from a station last night.

The unmanned operations station was broken into at midnight, leaving north and east London, as well as Sussex and Kent, with limited or no mobile service throughout the day.

Phone calls, texts, and mobile internet services were all affected, which also impacted Tesco Mobile customers who also use the carrier.

O2 were quick to post an update to the O2 website.

“Following the theft and vandalism at one of our operational sites in E London, we have been working hard to resume normal mobile service to N and E London, Kent and E Sussex,” it stated.

“Some affected customers were able to make calls again from 4.30 pm today and service across the region has been restored now. We are carefully monitoring this throughout the night.”

The thieves were believed to be looking to dismantle the equipment to sell parts across Eastern Europe and Asia.

However, telecoms infrastructure has long been a target for criminal gangs.

Last year, BT were forced to implement a tagging system for cables after seeing a 10% increase in theft.

This was put down to the high price of copper making the theft especially attractive.

No doubt while the recession continues to bite and metal prices continue to remain strong, the UK’s telecoms infrastructure will remain a target, the chagrin of those it affects.

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