MILLIONS of British customers have been left confused and angry after being unable to use their smartphones after a software issue brought the O2 network to a standstill.

UPDATE: Services have since been restored according to O2 

Users of the network, which is used by 32 million UK customers have bombarded the company with complaints after being unable to access 4G, data services, make phone calls or make user of apps since around 4am on Thursday, according to Down Detector.

O2 and its mobile network equipment supplier Ericsson have issued a joint apology to customers hit by disruption to its data services.

But O2, which has 25 UK million customers said the network is not expected to be fully restored till this morning.

HeraldScotland:

Throughout Thursday O2 have told customers that they had no timeline for when the problems, which affected mobile internet and calls, would be fixed.

CEO of Telefonica UK (O2) Mark Evans who made an earlier apology for the service blackout said: "We are starting to restore the network this evening [Thursday], and we're confident, Ericsson have given the assurance that by tomorrow morning it will have been fully restored."

Despite the reassurance, O2's UK customer teams were yesterday evening sending mixed messages to concerned users on Twitter, by continuing to say that there was no timetable for when the issues would be resolved. The messages eventually changed after users pointed out what Mr Evans had said.

HeraldScotland:

The messaging in two consecutive tweets changed  (above and below)... twice within minutes of each other.

HeraldScotland:

HeraldScotland:

Börje Ekholm, president and chief executive of Ericsson, was less definite about timescales, late yesterday afternoon, saying: “The faulty software that has caused these issues is being decommissioned and we apologize not only to our customers but also to their customers. We work hard to ensure that our customers can limit the impact and restore their services as soon as possible.”

Ericsson, which confirmed that an issue with its software was at fault, believed that in the course of Thursday most of the affected customers’ network services were successfully restored.

According to Down Detector, the peaks of reported problems over the network peaked at around 9am and 3pm - and users were continuing to log their network failures at 8pm, with users complaining they had been without services for up to 16 hours.

O2 said they were working "flat out" with Swedish tech firm Ericsson to fix the technical faults that have hit customers worldwide.

The latest outage has also hit services provided by Giffgaff, Tesco Mobile, Sky Mobile and Lycamobile who have over seven million users. Japan’s SoftBank, which also experiencing difficulties with over 30 million subscribers hit, said it had been told by Ericsson that mobile network operators in 11 countries were affected by the glitch.

Services such as bus timetable information are thought to be affected in some parts while many businesses faced disruption including the mobile transport service Uber.

In Scotland where tens of thousands are thought to have been affected there was anger as it comes just a month after previous problems which mean customers were unable to make or received phone calls during one afternoon.

One Montrose mum-to-be who was nine months pregnant told of her stress having been unable to make calls, text or access data on her phone in a complaint to O2.

"Bit of a concern, when due a baby and can't call my husband or midwife," she said.

She later said she was able to make use of her son's phone but then realised her husband's work phone was on O2.

"I can make phone calls on my son's phone," she said. "My husband's work phone is O2 also, so it was a bit worrying that I might not get through to him."

Calum Paterson, the Glasgow-based award-winning sound designer and composer who is working on the Wendy and Peter Pan production at the Royal Lyceum in Edinburgh said it had affected him "massively" adding: "I have not been able to talk to anyone, I've not been able to get hold of my partner all day, and I am working in Edinburgh just now.

"Outwith WiFi it is very difficult to communicate. It is extremely frustrating."

Ericsson came under fire on social media after producing a statement saying that that the distubances had affected "a limited number of customers".

One user, Jamie Fellows summed up the feeling saying: "Ericsson sort your problems out! Approximately 30 million users affected in the UK alone is not a limited number of customers".

HeraldScotland:

To which Ericsson responded: "We meant limited number of telecom operators. We understand a large amount of individual consumers affected and we apologise and are working hard to restore services.

"I agree that it was unfortunate wording."

O2’s rivals including Vodafone, Three and EE have also suffered nationwide outages affecting customers in the past year.

In 2012, O2 was at the centre of a major network outage when customers were not able to access services for 25 hours.