As the possibility of energy rationing looms over the conflict in Ukraine, Orange, the nation's top telecom operator, warned on Wednesday that In the event that there are prolonged power outages this winter, several regions of France might not be able to make emergency phone calls.
The stern warning from Christel Heydemann contrasts with the comforting tone of the French government on the subject and emphasizes the difficulties the telecoms sector has in maintaining mobile services in the case of protracted power outages.
Heydemann cautioned French legislators during a Senate session that if mobile network services were shut down for two hours in a specific location, access to the emergency number services would be lost.
“It won’t be right to believe that we will be able to serve everyone in France in the event of a power outage,” she said.
In September, telecom industry representatives told Reuters that they thought that power rationing, which was a possibility due to a reduction in Russian energy supplies, might force some portions of the mobile network in Europe to go down, necessitating preparations from businesses and governments.
At the time, executives claimed that many European nations had sufficient backup capabilities to handle frequent power outages.
Heydemann claimed on Wednesday that the thousands of mobile sites for this winter couldn't be equipped with backup batteries since there wasn't enough time. It will take five years, she said.
In order to assess and foresee the risks of power outages, Heydemann, who assumed control of Orange throughout April, stated that the business had been conducting testing on its mobile network in France.
According to current scenarios being considered with the government, Orange would be informed of the specific location the day before a power outage at 5 p.m. (1600 GMT).
She stated that Orange was attempting to obtain that information 24 hours before outages so that workers may begin their job as soon as feasible on the ground.
She remarked, "I worry that our countrymen and the French will learn that telecom networks depend on power."
Heydemann's remarks were downplayed by a government source.
The source told Reuters that "the operators put pressure so that we don't cut their antennae, there's a kind of arm wrestling."
The insider stated that the government has been working on the issue for a year and a half and that they are in touch with the telecom carriers.
Orange's Heydemann added that the firm and the sector were in frequent contact with Enedis, a corporation that is a division of the utility EDF and distributes electricity across the nation.
The French minister of digital affairs, which is in charge of telecom services, did not respond to a request for comment.
Enedis stated that helping telecom operators maintain access to emergency numbers in the case of extraordinary power outages is a top concern for public authorities.
It noted that discussions were still ongoing to determine the best ways to lessen the effects of anticipated brief power outages.
Heydemann's cautions go counter to the French government's earlier, more positive tone.
According to government spokesman Olivier Veran, "resource antennas" (would enable) all emergency numbers to function if there were power supply problems at a certain time.