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Emergency numbers in a fire station in Gironde, April 12, 2016

TELECOMMUNICATIONS – “Inadequacies” and too slow reactivity. The operator Orange showed “insufficient” reactivity during the malfunction of the emergency numbers system in France at the beginning of June, this Thursday, July 22, the report commissioned by the government, which puts forward various avenues to prevent future breakdowns analogues.

“It is clear from reading the report that there were shortcomings on the part of the company,” noted Cédric O, Secretary of State for Digital, during a briefing.

On June 2, between 4:45 p.m. and midnight, nearly 12,000 calls had not been sent, according to an internal survey of the group. Orange had asserted that this crisis, to which six deaths are potentially linked, was due to a software “bug”, a track confirmed by the report led by the French public IT security agency (Anssi).

The blackout had provoked strong political reactions and renewed the debate on the system of emergency numbers, of which some players want the merger, while the authorities had had to set up alternative 10-digit numbers to reach the emergency services.

The incumbent operator is scolded in this report for having first of all poorly prepared his technical intervention which caused the bug and then reacted too slowly.

“Orange took nearly an hour to realize that the outage affected the emergency services in particular, two hours to inform the authorities and nearly three hours to put in place an appropriate system. This is due to several internal dysfunctions at Orange ”, notes the document consulted by AFP.

A new warning system?

In order to prevent such a situation from happening again, various avenues are proposed to the government.

This involves, for example, setting up an alert escalation system and technical supervision specific to emergency numbers among operators, or carrying out systematic tests before any technical intervention on critical equipment.

The government therefore plans to modify the regulatory framework by the end of 2021 in order to strengthen the performance obligations concerning the routing of emergency calls. In the coming days, it will also seize the telecoms regulator, so that it appreciates Orange’s compliance with its regulatory obligations. A crisis exercise must also be carried out within six months.

Orange had drawn up a first list of recommendations at the end of its internal investigation, such as the objective of “reducing from two hours to a maximum of thirty minutes” the time taken to trigger a crisis unit in such a situation.

Their implementation must be verified, as well as the taking into account of those of the report published on Thursday, claim the authors of the latter.

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