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Investigation following the breakdown of emergency numbers

On 22 July, the government presented the results of its audit on the vast telephone network breakdown that rendered emergency numbers inaccessible for several hours on 2 June. And the conclusion is clear: "There were shortcomings on the part of Orange".


In the report submitted by Anssi, IGA, Igas, the CGE and the SEAC, the sequence of events is the same as that already set out by Orange in its own investigation. Namely, the failure occurred on Wednesday 2 June, at 4:45 pm, during a maintenance operation on a telephone network equipment.

Technically, the malfunction is due to an equipment of the network called "calls servers", gateways allowing the interconnection between the old switched telephone network and the fibre network carrying the internet data. This is a mandatory step for calls made from a Wi-Fi phone to a landline, or from another operator's mobile phone to emergency numbers. The report states: "The malfunction of the equipment was caused by a manipulation by the operator, which triggered a software bug blocking the equipment and rendering it uncontrollable".


Anssi insists on the conjunction of three factors, namely firstly "somewhat hazardous [computer] commands issued by Orange", i.e. technical manipulations for an operation to improve the call server but carried out "in an unusual order" by the technician. Then, these same commands were replicated "in a very short time" on all the call servers. This is where the "bug" in the equipment supplied by the service provider Italtel "appeared", a bug that "is not the responsibility of Orange".

The agency also noted "a certain slowness in Orange's reaction" and "a lack of technical advice on its part" towards the various emergency services.


In total, around 3 million calls were not completed, including 11,800 to emergency numbers. The incident probably had dramatic consequences: judicial or administrative investigations have been opened into six deaths that occurred during the outage. "Orange took nearly an hour to become aware that the outage was affecting emergency services in particular, two hours to inform the authorities and nearly three hours to put in place an appropriate system," the report said.


Cédric O also indicates that "the government will refer the matter to Arcep in the next few days to study the consequences", potentially legal. Telecoms operators are in fact obliged to carry calls, particularly emergency calls, and to maintain the security and integrity of networks.


In addition, by the end of September, new recommendations for the management of emergency numbers will be established, to be implemented by operators. This will be accompanied by a future crisis exercise.



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Source : L'Obs





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