Risks of “load shedding”: Orange is concerned about mobile network cuts this winter

Christel Heydemann, CEO of Orange, warned Wednesday of the risk of cuts to the French mobile network this winter. This would have an impact on “access to emergency number services. »

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Christel Heydemann, CEO of Orange, warned on Wednesday of the risk of cuts to the French mobile network this winter, and therefore of a possible impact on “access to emergency number services », in the event of temporary and localized power cuts which could be organized in the face of electricity shortages.

“It is illusory to imagine that in the event of load shedding, we will be able to maintain continuous service for all French people. Mobile services, if turned off in a geographic area for two hours, there will be no access to emergency number services for a time “, she said during a hearing before the Senate Economic Affairs Committee.

Cuts as a “very last resort”

With the energy crisis, the possibility of “
load shedding
this winter is frequently mentioned. These are cuts targeted and temporary of supply intended to relieve the system in the event of too high voltages, with a different operation for gas and electricity, and to avoid the “
», that is to say the generalized and uncontrolled blackout, in the event of tensions between supply and demand.

This fear of cuts was revived after the latest forecasts from RTE, the manager of the high-voltage network, which warned in mid-November of a risk “
» Tensions on the electrical system in January, due to the slower-than-expected restart of EDF’s nuclear reactors.

It’s only by “
very last resort
” only “
load shedding
could be carried out by Enedis at the request of RTE. “
Control towers
» security of the distribution network, the 28 regional management agencies of Enedis would then be responsible for remotely activating these rotating two-hour blackouts throughout the territory.

Excluding some 14,000 priority sites determined by decree which dates back to July 5, 1990: defence, electricity production, but also hospitals, prisons.

“Pretty new situations” to come

Unfortunately, telecom networks are not considered priority sites
“, lamented Christel Heydemann, while mobile phones have become the main way for the French to contact the emergency services and the emergency number 112.

“This is a subject on which Orange and the Telecoms Federation have been alerting the government since the beginning of 2022. We continue to work (together on the subject), but I fear that our fellow citizens will discover that the telecom networks depend on electricity “, she added, assuring that the operator is doing “crisis drills “.

“In telecom networks, there are different types of sites: some are prioritized in the prevention plans that we implement. But some of our sites, in particular the tens of thousands of mobile sites, will not be prioritized. As well as a certain number of our critical sites “equipped with generators and batteries, which “may have an impact (on the network) at the national level “, explained Christel Heydemann.

There are back-up systems that will take over. However, if load shedding increases, we do not know how the network will behave.
“, she said, adding that he “
is illusory to imagine putting batteries at the foot of each of the mobile sites in France

There could be situations where the light works in an apartment but the mobile (networks) do not work because the tower is in an area which is itself unloaded, and vice versa
“Warned the leader of Orange again. This would give “
rather unusual situations

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Risks of “load shedding”: Orange is concerned about mobile network cuts this winter

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