Europe Braces For Mobile Network Blackouts This Winter

PARIS – Once unthinkable, mobile phones could go dark across Europe this winter if power outages or energy rationing knock out parts of the region’s mobile networks.

In the aftermath of the Ukraine conflict, Russia’s decision to halt gas supplies via Europe’s primary supply route has increased the likelihood of power outages. In France, the situation is exacerbated by the shutdown of several nuclear power plants for maintenance.

Officials in the telecoms industry are concerned that a harsh winter will put Europe’s telecoms infrastructure to the test, forcing companies and governments to try to mitigate the impact.

There are currently insufficient backup systems in many European countries to handle widespread power outages, according to four telecoms executives, raising the prospect of mobile phone outages.

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

Europe has nearly half a million telecom towers and most of them have battery backups that last around 30 minutes to run the mobile antennas. – Reuters

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