O2 network down in London and South East after another break-in

The O2 network is down in parts of London and the South East after thieves done some crime in East London.

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Update: This story refers to the O2 problems in May 2011 -- click here to find out more about problems with the O2 network in July 2012.

The O2 network is down in parts of London and the South East after thieves done some crime in East London. Vandalism and "well-organised" theft at an O2 site has knocked out voice, texts and 3G data for mobile phone owners as far away as the seaside towns of Southend and Margate, recalling a similar outage affecting the Vodafone network earlier this year.

O2 engineers sprang into action to fix the vandalism and theft, which occurred in the dead of night. O2 first posted a statement on its website at around 1am. The company says in a statement there's "no estimated time for this to be fixed, however we're working on getting our network up and running as soon as possible and expect it to be today".

O2 describes the scene of the crime as an operations site, whatever that is, but wouldn't tell us exactly what kind of site was involved for security reasons. How exciting! The police are supporting O2's investigation, but for now it's "too early to draw any conclusions".

GiffGaff, the community-driven super-cheap network that also uses O2's system, has posted handy maps showing where's affected. The areas marked in red are the ones hit.

O2 customers can't make voice calls and texts from North and East London, Essex, Kent and East Sussex, as shown above, extending all the way out to Margate and Folkestone on the English Channel. 3G coverage is down in North London from Camden to beyond Potters Bar and Greenwich out past Dartford, Romford and Epping, as shown below.

The incident is similar to a Vodafone network failure in February. Thieves targeted an exchange centre in Basingstoke, cutting off voice and data services in the South West. Perhaps this is the start of a spree -- we suggest police should look for someone building a phone exchange in their shed.

Have you been affected by the O2 outage? Let us know in the comments or on our Facebook wall.