Mobile network outages expected in Europe this winter

black marble europe 2016 f

Four European telecom executives said on September 29, 2022, there are currently not enough backup systems in many European countries to handle widespread power cuts, raising the prospect of mobile network outages this winter.

European Union countries, including France, Sweden, and Germany, are trying to ensure communications can continue even if power cuts end up exhausting backup batteries installed on the thousands of cellular antennas spread across their territory, Reuters reports.1

The majority of Europe’s almost half-million telecom towers have battery backups that can power mobile antennas for approximately 30 minutes.

According to Reuters, potential power cuts in France would last up to two hours in a word-case scenario. General blackouts in France would affect only parts of the country on a rotating basis but essential services such as hospitals, police, and government will not be impacted.

Telcos in Sweden and Germany have also voiced worries about future electricity shortages with their respective governments, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the situation

Swedish telecom regulator PTS is working with telecom operators and other government agencies to find solutions. One of them could be fuel stations and mobile base stations that connect to mobile phones to handle longer power outages.

Italian telecoms lobby said power outages increase the probability of electronic components failing if subjected to abrupt interruptions, adding that they will ask the new government to exclude mobile networks from energy cuts.

German Deutsche Telekom has 33 000 mobile radio towers across the country and its mobile emergency power systems can only support a small number of them at the same time, a company spokesperson said. Their idea is to use diesel emergency power systems in case of blackouts.

In conclusion, Reuters report said large parts of Europe enjoyed uninterrupted power supply for decades, which made them spoiled and unprepared for what’s on the horizon.

References:

1 Exclusive: Europe braces for mobile network blackouts – Reuters – September 29, 2022

Featured image: NASA/GSFC (2016), The Watchers

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