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Broken O2 mast causing mobile 'nightmare' for Staffordshire villagers

Wednesday, October 7th 2015 by Ellen Branagh

O2 customers in an area of rural Staffordshire have had no mobile signal for nearly a week – leaving them unable to contact relatives or run businesses.

Residents in villages including Great Haywood, Little Haywood, Colwich and Tixall have been without a mobile signal since Thursday 1 October, with many being told it will be another five days until the problem is fixed.

The issue is not only affecting O2 customers, but those signed up with MVNOs (mobile virtual network operators) who use the O2 network, including GiffGaff and Tesco Mobile.

Some customers have resorted to driving to nearby towns to get a signal, with the problem making it impossible for many to run businesses or get in touch with elderly or vulnerable relatives.

It is thought the problem is down to a broken mobile mast in the area.

A message on the O2 live status checker on Monday afternoon said: “Sorry, there’s a mast near you that isn’t working and we’re waiting for our third party supplier to visit the site to fix the problem. We apologise for any inconvenience.”

Lizzie Moffitt, who lives in Tixall, told Cable.co.uk that she relies on her mobile as she doesn't have a landline.

Miss Moffitt, 50, said she has not had any signal at all since Friday unless she drives to nearby Milford.

"We're into a sixth day now, it's been ridiculous.

"I live by myself so I'm quite vulnerable, if I needed to call the police I wouldn't be able to.

"I also haven't been able to get in touch with my elderly parents, or them with me.

"I had a phone appointment with the doctor on Friday afternoon, but my number was down so the doctor couldn't call me and I've lost that appointment now."

'An absolute nightmare'

She said when she contacted O2 they were apologetic but said they could not offer her compensation for the time she was without a service.

Miss Moffitt said she was told that O2 was having trouble getting access to the land where the mast is, but said when she spoke to the woman who owns the land, she said nobody had tried to contact her.

She has now bought an EE sim card to make sure she has use of a phone.

Dave Knight, who lives in Great Haywood, called the situation "an absolute nightmare".

Mr Knight, 36, who runs Stafford-based electrical business Day and Knight, said when he first contacted O2 on Monday, he was told there were network problems and has since received messages saying a nearby mast isn’t working.

“We’re having to go over wi-fi which isn’t a very great app, it’s a bit of a pain,” he said.

“We should have calls coming through but I’m not sure if they all are and it’s not good when I have to go out and about.

“Someone was going to call me back yesterday, so I know I’m missing calls that are affecting the business.”

Nurse Richard Nixon, 43, from Weston, said: "We live in a rural area where the signal can occasionally be intermittent but five days of zero signal is extremely frustrating."

He said whenever he drove a few miles into other areas, he had several messages which he needed to respond to – some of which needed a more urgent response.

An O2 spokesperson said: "We can confirm that there is an issue with our mast serving the Great Haywood area."

"We apologise to our customers for the inconvenience this will cause and we are working as fast as we can to restore service."

Picture courtesy of Roger Kidd.

Update: The O2 spokesperson later added that an engineer was on site on Wednesday 7 October and said: "We are working as fast as we can to restore service.”

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