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Three's mobile data goes titsup in mysterious spreading outage

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Many customers of the UK's smallest mobile network, Three, are without data connectivity this morning as an outage which started last night is spreading with no sign of a fix.

The problem is affecting customers across the UK. Once connectivity is lost it can't be regained, but some remain unaffected - so identifying the pattern will be the engineers' first pointer to the problem.

Three has pushed out the usual apology and promises to work diligently fixing whatever has gone wrong, but for the moment there's very little information.

Some of our customers are unable to access the Internet. We are working to restore the service as soon as possible. We apologise for any inconvenience.

Network outages are an inevitable part of a competitive business: customers will say they want reliability but they also want everything cheap. The interesting stuff comes afterwards when we find out what's being done to avoid the problem happening again and to placate irritated users.

Strategies vary, from chucking money to charity (GiffGaff), giving a few quid to customers (O2) or throwing out the kit which failed (O2 again). Only one of those options actually promises any improvement, though all three have successfully mollified customers in the past.

Previous outages have generally involved authentication servers, so if you've already got a live data connection with Three then don't let it time out, or you might find it impossible to connect back again. ®

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