Telia investigation over mobile failure

Repeated failures on Telia's mobile network, Telia Sonera, on Friday night has left the company facing huge compensation costs and possible fines. But there is still no explanation for what caused around 250,000 customers to lose their phone service.

At about 6pm on Friday a problem with two transmitters silenced mobile phones on Telia Sonera’s network, while those trying to call Telia customers were met with an engaged signal. The fault appeared to be fixed by 8pm but Dagens Nyheter reported that there were sporadic problems throughout Saturday which meant that the transmitters had to be restarted.

But while everything has been running smoothly since Saturday evening, it’s the lack of communication about the lack of communication that bothered the press.

“It’s some sort of software problem,” said engineer Mattias Nilsson.

Telia Sonera’s spokesman, Susanne Sturmhoefel, told Expressen on Monday that the company’s technicians had dealt with the problem and that the service had been working since Sunday morning.

“But I can’t give you any more information about the actual reason,” she added.

That did not satisfy Expressen which, judging by its reaction, presumably has a corporate account with Telia.

“Are you tired of your mobile phone not working?” the paper bellowed. “Do you want to know why? Ring 08-504 550 11 and ask for Anders Igel.”

Anders Igel is Telia’s managing director and Susanne Sturmhoefel told Expressen, perhaps inadvisably, that the number goes directly to his office and that his secretary is very helpful. The paper urged readers to call to find out why “Telia is refusing to pay out compensation to those who were affected by the fault”.

But don’t expect to talk to Igel himself. He’s more likely to be dealing with the news that the National Post and Telecom Agency (PTS) is now investigating whether the weekend’s network failure affected customers’ use of the 112 emergency number.

Anders Johansson, head of the department for network security at PTS, told Aftonbladet that his organisation would take it very seriously if 112 was hit.

“The goal is firstly to rectify the failings and to learn from what happened,” he said. “But there is also the possibility of fining Telia Sonera if it turns out that the 112 emergency number wasn’t working.”

Indra Åsander, who is responsible for private customers at Telia Sonera, told TT that although there were complications, “it is always possible to call 112”.

“But customers need to know what to do in these situations in order to ring 112,” she said. “In certain cases you need to take out the SIM-card and I don’t think many people know that. That could have affected our customers’ ability to reach 112.”

Åsander’s admission combined with Expressen’s page-wide publication of the boss’s direct number may have done the job. Later on Monday the company decided not only to reverse its decision not to offer compensation but to go all-out to win the PR battle with a mobile bonanza: on Friday all of Telia’s 4.2 million mobile customers will enjoy free calls between 7pm and midnight.

Let’s hope they have their emergency engineers on standby.