Wed, 07 Dec 2022

European power shortages could silence mobile networks

Robert Besser
01 Oct 2022, 17:25 GMT+10

LONDON, England: This winter, energy shortages could mean that mobile phones could lose signals in Europe due to power cuts or energy rationing that will affect mobile networks throughout the continent.

Shortages have been made more likely by Russia's decision to halt gas supplies to Europe due to sanctions imposed on Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine.

Currently, there are not enough mobile phone back-up systems in many European countries to handle widespread power cuts, four telecoms executives said, raising the prospect of mobile phone outages.

European Union countries, most notably France, Sweden and Germany, are scrambling to maintain their communications systems, even if power cuts exhaust back-up batteries installed on the tens-of-thousands of cellular antennas in Europe.

As a number of nuclear power plants have been closed for maintenance, the situation in France could become worse.

A plan put forward by French electricity distributor Enedis could involve two-hour power cuts in a worst case scenario. But essential services, such as hospitals, police and government will not be affected.

In Sweden and Germany, telecoms companies have also expressed concerns to their governments over potential electricity shortages.

PTS, the Swedish telecom regulator, is working with telecom operators and other government agencies to find solutions, including developing plans for electricity rationing.

In an interview with Reuters, telecoms lobby chief Massimo Sarmi said Italian telecom companies want the mobile network to be excluded from any power cuts or energy savings measures, and will raise this with Italy's new government.

Power outages will increase the probability of electronic components failing, he added.
In Germany, Deutsche Telekom, which has 33,000 mobile radio towers, said its mobile emergency power systems can only support a small number of them at the one time.

It plans to use mobile emergency power systems which mainly rely on diesel in the event of prolonged power failures, it added.

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