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For about four weeks, sending and receiving SMS messages via O2 is limited to the plain ASCII character set. For most English-txt’rs, this not a problem as you tend to use just 25 characters. But if you, by any chance, send and receive SMS in other languages (including Irish), your intended messages will be garbled and distorted by O2 Ireland‘s network.

Here’s a test-message in Swedish:
“Där är öar i ån”

Result: “Ddr dr -ar i ln”

Here’s a test-message in Irish:
“Tá mé i mo chónaí i nÉirinn”

Result: “Ta mO i mo choani i nèirinn”

When I first noticed this problem, I checked O2 Ireland‘s web site (no luck there), then phoned their support line. After keying in Press 1 for this, Press 2 for that, I found myself in a computer-telephony queue for 35 minutes. Eventually a human being answered. He suggested that it was a handset problem, hence I found an older mobile phone in the house, slipped in the SIM and…. the problem was still there. Phoning back to the support line, it was now closed. When phoning them the next day, they agreed to provide a new SIM card, while I had discovered that the other two O2 phones I have also had the problem, which pointed – again – to their network. I picked up a new SIM card in the local O2 store in Parkway’s shopping Centre in Limerick and while in the shop, verified that the problem was still there. I then requested that the shop assistant make the call to O2’s support line, Press 1 for this, Press 2 for that, and tell me when she got through to a human being. After about 10 minutes a Manager (at least she claimed to be one) picked up the call and said they would now escalate the problem and ask their Technical Staff to have a look. I then asked her to try with her own phone, any old sentence in Irish with an accented character. She confirmed that her phone also had the problem.

A week passed by. No change, problem still there.

Another week passed, and I phoned O2 Ireland‘s support line again to get some feedback if their Technical Staff had any idea how to solve the problem. After the usual Press 1 for this, Press 2 for that, and five minutes waiting, a human answered and checked the reported issue, telling me their Techies had written back that it’s a handset issue. I tried to calmly explain to her that we had eliminated that possibility some weeks ago. She said she would raise the issue again.

Another week passed. The problem with a limited character set when sending and receiving SMS via O2 Ireland remains.

Last Saturday, in the pub, we did some extensive testing between phones, different networks, etc., and I have now verified that THIS PROBLEM IS O2 IRELAND‘s NETWORK that is a FAULT.

Here are a couple of screen shots from our testing:

mobile phones, side by side

another couple of mobile phones, side by side

I have a fairly good idea where problem might be, but I would have to charge O2 Ireland for consultancy if they want me to do the work that their Technical Staff should be able to do. Perhaps they don’t have any techies…. Or, perhaps they are just totally incompetent, or ignorant…

I will give O2 Ireland two more weeks to fix this problem. After that I’m changing operator, both for my personal mobile phones and for any business-related projects.

Some technical background reading: GSM 03.38

6 Comments

  1. O2 unfortunately are quite useless in handling those important little details.
    They do quite a bit better than other network providers; especialky 3, but when they fuck-up they do just like the politicians in the ruling party with the inevitable fall-back strategy pf ‘feed ’em shit and keep ’em in the dark’.
    Pity.

  2. FYI, I’m on Vodafone and they essentially charge more to send texts with fadas and such characters. If you use a fada they will bump your text up. https://support.vodafone.ie/system/selfservice.controller?CONFIGURATION=1003&PARTITION_ID=1&LANGUAGE=en&COUNTRY=ie&USERTYPE=1&TIMEZONE_OFFSET=null&CMD=VIEW_ARTICLE&ARTICLE_ID=680773&SOURCE=null

    • I don’t mind the extra charge due to extended character set requiring more bytes. What O2 has to realize is that there is a substantial risk in TXTing something really impolite or rude when being forcibly transliterated by some defunct software in their system. This can, in worst case, lead to some interesting litigation.
      FYI, so far, nor real response from O2.

  3. Interesting update: Since Three bought O2 in June 2013, I noted that in August 2013, the problem disappeared! One can imagine that either, O2 have done a proper overhaul of their systems, or, that Three have some more competent people than O2.

    • I have used 3 and I can state that 3 are even worse than O2. Also, 3 are not the kind of people to sign a contract with. Best not to sign any contract with them. Ever.

      • Yes, I have heard that about 3 from a number of people. Their coverage also seems problematic.


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