December 3, 2022

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Will cellphones lose signal in Europe this winter?

4 min read

Will cellphones lose signal in Europe this winter?



 

Will cellphones lose signal in Europe this winter?

 

“What was once unimaginable may happen.” Reuters warned in a report on the 29th that under the current energy crisis, if power outages or energy rationing problems break out in Europe this winter.

Some mobile communication networks in Europe may be interrupt.

Local telecom executives admit that parts of Europe have been “spoiled” by stable power supplies for decades.

In addition, many countries do not have enough backup power systems to deal with widespread blackouts, further increasing the risk of outages to mobile phone networks.

 

 

 

The report said that after the outbreak of the Russian-Ukrainian war, Europe encountered problems getting natural gas from Russia, which increased the possibility of power shortages in Europe.

European telecommunications industry officials said they were concerned that Europe’s telecommunications infrastructure will be tested by a harsh winter, and governments and businesses are working to reduce the negative impact.

EU countries, including France, Sweden and Germany, are taking steps to try to keep communications undisturbed, such as deploying battery backups at the thousands of cellphone towers scattered across the country to deal with possible power outages.

In total, there are nearly half a million cell towers in Europe, and most of them have battery backups that only keep the towers running for about half an hour.

 

In France, the energy supply situation is not optimistic as several nuclear power plants are out of service due to maintenance.

 

French public distribution service Enedis has proposed a contingency plan to limit blackouts to two hours in a worst-case scenario, two sources said.

The power outages would normally only affect parts of France in rotation, but essential services such as hospitals, police stations and the government would not be affected, the sources said.

 

Enedis also said in a statement to Reuters that the company was able to separate power lines for priority customers such as hospitals, the military, and critical industrial facilities, as to whether to add the telecom operator’s infrastructure to priority customers.

On the list, it is up to the local government to make a decision. But a source at the French finance ministry conceded that it was not easy to separate cell towers from power lines to other facilities.

 

In addition to France, telecom companies in Sweden and Germany have also expressed concerns to their governments about potential power shortages.

 

Sweden’s telecom regulator PTS is working with telecom operators and other government agencies to find solutions to safeguard mobile signals in the event of a power outage.

A PTS spokesman said the company is buying mobile fuel stations and mobile base stations that provide network for cell phones as a way to deal with longer outages.

 

The Telecom Italia lobby group told Reuters it hoped the mobile network would not be affected by any power outages or energy-saving measures, a request they also made to Italy’s new government.

Massimo Sarmi, head of the group, said in an interview that if the power supply is suddenly interrupted, the electronic components of the network infrastructure may suffer damage.

 

Telecom equipment makers Nokia and Ericsson are working with mobile operators to try to mitigate the impact of power shortages, three sources said.

Four telecom industry executives pointed out that European telecom operators must first review their own networks, reduce additional power consumption, and update equipment by using more energy-efficient radio designs.

To save power, some telecom companies in Europe are using software to optimize energy use, putting towers into a “sleep” state when there is no demand for use, while shutting down parts of the spectrum, the sources said.

 

But even so, concerns about power supply problems are still spreading in the industry.

 

There are about 62,000 mobile towers in France, but the telecommunications industry has been unable to install new backup power supplies for all antennas, said Liza Bellulo, president of the French Telecommunications Union (FFT).

 

A Deutsche Telekom (DTEGn.DE) spokesman also said that while Deutsche Telekom has 33,000 mobile base stations, the mobile emergency power system can only support a fraction of them.

 

Reuters wrote that European countries have become accustomed to decades of uninterrupted power supply and usually do not think to install backup power.

 

“We’re probably investing a lot less in energy storage than some other countries,” said a telecoms industry executive. “In most parts of Europe where electricity is stable and good, we’re probably a little bit spoiled.”

 



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