On the hot seat since June 2 at the end of the day when the emergency numbers were inaccessible, the boss of Orange, Stéphane Richard, came to explain himself, this Tuesday, before the Committee on Economic Affairs of the National Assembly .
According to him, this dysfunction during which several suspicious deaths occurred is not the consequence of an "under-investment" on the part of Orange, nor of a problem on "the copper network".
“It is linked to a pre-existing software bug on equipment installed in 2016”, he explained adding: “This“ software bug ”, which had not been manifested until then, occurred in moment of a reconnection order during a network modernization and extension operation to cope with the increase in traffic that we observed throughout 2020. ”
According to the findings of the Orange investigation published on June 11, 11,800 calls, or 11% of the total, were not routed during the blackout on June 2, between 4:45 p.m. and midnight.
"This dysfunction is the consequence of a bug in the software of the" calls servers ", that is to say the technical equipment which manages the interconnection between the IP network and the old analog network", specified this report. .
"Weaknesses" in crisis communication
According to Stéphane Richard, “this incident is not linked to an under-investment but to an investment. All messages on network obsolescence are off topic ”. The boss of Orange, however, recognized in front of the deputies “weaknesses” in the communication of crisis on behalf of his group during the blackout. On June 2, “the technical mobilization was immediate” but “the activation of crisis cells, and in particular managerial units, was too slow,” he said. According to him, now, the triggering time of these cells "will go from 2 hours to 30 minutes".
To prevent such an incident from having consequences on the populations, the Orange boss recommends setting up a single emergency number, which is currently the subject of debate and the use of "SMS sending campaigns massive (…) to the entire population ”to signal an emergency number in the event of a new breakdown.
Even if it is not up to the operators but to the politicians to decide on the implementation of this type of measure.
The CEO of Orange, who also chairs the international association of telecom operators (GSMA), will also propose the creation of "a unit responsible for listing, analyzing and sharing the experiences of 750 global operators on this type of dysfunction", he told MEPs, after citing a list of similar incidents at other operators abroad.
To date, five suspicious deaths have been observed in Morbihan, Haute-Saône, Vendée, Réunion, and Bouches-du-Rhône, during this blackout.