Why the O2 outage was good for O2

What can you get for 22p these days that is really pleasurable? No drinks or snacks or public transport or downloadable music. Nothing. Nada. Even the public toilets at Victoria station in London cost 30p to make one pee! However, there is the most luxurious pleasure available for 22p, and that’s a hot bath at home. I was reviewing our home quarterly electricity and water bills the other week and I worked out that it costs about 22p in power and water for a hot bath. Brilliant value, especially on a cold day.

Last week, one of Seren’s clients, O2, had a problem with their mobile network which caused an outage for many of their customers for several days, and I was one of them. This caused a lot of O2 ‘outage outrage’ on the social networks and in the press, obviously due to people being unable to make calls.

Another way to look at it is this. I pay around £30 a month, or £1 a day for my contract with O2. Now considering that 17.5% of that goes direct to Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs as VAT, this leaves O2 receiving 82p a day. For this I get a very nice handset and more calls and data than I actually need. I am (normally) constantly within coverage and able to call loved ones and colleagues whenever I need to. All this for just 82p a day.

It’s a really complex business for O2 to know where I am and route my calls to and from me whenever needed with great clarity. This needs a huge infrastructure to achieve this on a 24/7/365 everywhere basis. And occasionally, things will go wrong – as they did last week.

Considering I’m only paying 82p per day, should I be complaining about this? No, I shouldn’t. If anything I should be grateful that for the other 363 days of the year I get brilliant service. Mobile communications is being considered a utility and a commodity when to me it is still a miracle of engineering. Less than 20 years ago we didn’t have mobile and the world didn’t fall apart. Now, if it doesn’t work for a day or two we are in an outrage.

I think that the outage will help people to recognize how much they value mobile services and that they are getting an amazing technology with widespread coverage for a very low fee. The other UK networks must be so grateful that it didn’t happen to them but they will still get the benefit of consumers’ re-appraised valuation of the service they receive.

O2 are also being very generous in the compensation they are paying those affected by the outage, so well done to O2. And well done to the mobile industry. You are worth every penny of the 82p I give you each day!

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