The operator Orange has just published the results of the internal investigation into the failure of emergency numbers which took place on June 2. The firm believes that the malfunctions are due to a software bug in the call server solutions and points the finger – without citing it – to a European equipment manufacturer. He pleads for a modernization of the emergency calls network.
It was eagerly awaited, the report on the internal investigation conducted by Stéphane Richard, CEO of Orange to clarify the origins of the failure of emergency numbers of June 2, 2021 has just fallen. It confirms that a software problem is the cause of this failure. In a press release, it is stated that “this malfunction is the consequence of a bug in the call server software. This bug was activated following usual reconnection commands, disrupting the overall operation of the call servers despite their redundancy between the six separate sites ”.
Is it because of a maintenance operation, as mentioned by the Minister of Health, Olivier Véran? The operator dodges by speaking of “an operation to modernize and increase the capacity of the network, started at the beginning of May, to respond to the increase in traffic”. To understand, the emergency call system combines two telecom technologies: the aging switched network (PSTN) (and which Orange wants to eliminate) and IP telephony (through Internet boxes for example). The operator must therefore create a bridge between these two worlds and it is on this interconnection that the software bug happened.
A network equipment manufacturer and the State singled out
In its press release, Orange points the finger at “a supplier partner of the equipment concerned” without citing it. Our colleague from Le Figaro was able to know that it was about a European equipment supplier, but it would not be “neither Nokia, nor Ericsson”. During this period approximately 11,800 calls, or 11% of the total calls, were not directed to emergency services. The results of Orange’s investigation will now have to be compared to the audit carried out by ANSSI at the request of the government.
In his communication, the operator pushes recommendations to prevent such events from happening again. There are of course lessons on crisis management with areas for improvement such as setting up a dedicated number, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week or sending SMS. But the main message is for the State, which must modernize the network of emergency services to IP technologies. What to cringe when Orange is accused of not investing enough in the maintenance of the copper network.