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PARIS, June 11 (Reuters) - Orange, France’s biggest telecoms operator, said on Friday that a software failure caused the network outage that affected calls to French emergency services for several hours last week, according to an internal inquiry.
Orange’s internal investigators found that the emergency calls, which rely on a platform of servers responsible for dispatching calls, were severely disturbed because of a bug in the call server software.
Orange’s voice services and access to some emergency services were affected most between 1445 GMT and 2200 GMT on June 2, Orange said, putting lives at risk and raising pressure on Chief Executive Stephane Richard.
During that period, about 11,800 calls, or 11% of the total, could not go through to the emergency services, Orange said.
The cause of the bug itself stemmed from an upgrade started in early May to increase the network’s capacity, Orange said.
Investigators also highlighted the late communication of the incident to authorities, emergency services and the media, as well as rivals Bouygues Telecom, SFR and Free, due to a delay in the setting up an internal crisis unit.
It took about two hours to issue alerts and set up the crisis management unit, which involves top management and other frontline people for such major incidents, a spokesperson said.
In France, Orange is the sole operator responsible for centralising and dispatching all emergency calls.
The Paris-based group said the software failure had been identified and solved by its equipment supplier, which it did not name. It reiterated that the glitch was not caused by a cyberattack.
Orange’s investigators recommended, among other measures, setting up a mechanism for the mass distribution of text messages in the event of a future breakdown affecting emergency services.
France’s cybersecurity agency ANSSI is also running a separate two-month audit of the breakdown following a demand by the government last week. (Reporting by Mathieu Rosemain; Editing by Louise Heavens and David Clarke)