UNDERSTAND IT ALL – Internet and mobile: should we expect cuts this winter?

Telecom companies have been warning for several weeks about internet and mobile network cuts in the event of tension on the electricity network this winter.

The French will perhaps have to return to candles (or at least to the electric torch) but they will also probably have to do without the mobile network and the internet if power cuts were to occur in the coming weeks.

• What is the risk of cuts this winter?

As temperatures have dropped in France, the government is working to prepare for the worst-case scenario. Between the setbacks of the nuclear fleet and the tensions on the supply of gas, possible load shedding – that is to say power cuts – have been mentioned for several months. In reality, this will largely depend on the weather for the next few months, which will influence the tension on the network. But during certain peak hours, in the event of a cold snap, the two-hour load shedding in certain residential areas are not ruled out.

• What impact on the internet network?

For individuals, a power outage will necessarily lead to an internet outage. The flow arrives by ADSL or fiber and therefore necessarily needs electricity to operate. Can we rely on the mobile network to compensate? Nothing is less sure.

• What impact on the mobile network?

This time, it is not the homes that are affected but the relay antennas of the operators who will also be deprived of power. Since they are not considered a priority, they will not escape load shedding. The cut of your mobile network will depend on your address: if you depend on a single antenna-relay and that this one does not work any more, then you will not have any more network. In dense areas, such as metropolises, you could nevertheless hook up to another nearby relay antenna if it is not part of the cut off areas.

• Why not install generators at cell towers?

“Telecom networks were not made to put one-tonne equipment – that’s the weight of a two-hour battery – in a building or on a roof terrace”, Michel Combot immediately states, Director General of the French Federation of Telecoms (FFT), invited this Thursday on BFMTV. “It would take at least five years to do it,” said Christel Heydemann, the director general of Orange, to the Senate’s Economic Affairs Committee on Wednesday.

• What about emergency numbers?

Since they work thanks to the mobile network, emergency numbers will inevitably be affected by load shedding. Note that the European number 112 does not depend on your operator: clearly, if a relay antenna in operation exists near an area without electricity, the 112 will then be able to work even if it is not an antenna of your operator ( while 15 or 18 depends on your operator).

• Are there alternative solutions?

The last option remains the satellite. And the happy owners of the new iPhone 14 should thus take advantage of the last option provided by the manufacturer Apple: the emergency call by satellite. Intended primarily for white areas, it could be of great help if the winter is harsh.

Thomas Le Roy Journalist BFM Business

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UNDERSTAND IT ALL – Internet and mobile: should we expect cuts this winter?

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