Dutch telecoms outage brings down 112 service
The Netherlands was struck by a major, four-hour telecommunications outage this week, which disconnected the 112 emergency services number.
Police were sent out into the streets to be easily accessible if needed during the outage.
The advanced nation of 17 million prides itself on the technical excellence of its telecommunications networks.
It affected the network of the national carrier Royal KPN and other telecoms firms that use its network. KPN said the outage did not appear to be caused by a cyberattack although it could not explain the incident.
Russia instantly falls under suspicion after any malfunction in western technology with complex networks proving increasingly difficult for engineers on the ground to understand.
“We have no reason to think it was [caused by hackers] and we monitor our systems 24/7”, a KPN spokeswoman said.
Justice Minister Ferdinand Grapperhaus, who called KPN bosses to his offices, said a probe would be launched. “This cannot happen again tomorrow,” Grapperhaus told Dutch television.
The government said: “If you need immediate medical assistance, go to the hospital yourself.”
Two people reportedly died when the network went down in a similar fashion in 2012.
“We’re appealing to everybody who wants to report an emergency and needs help to … go onto the street. Police officers with walkie-talkies are taking to the streets as much as possible so they can be spoken to,” police spokeswoman Suzanne van de Graaf told broadcaster NOS.
Landlines and mobile lines were affected.
The military police said it had boosted numbers at key strategic points and airports.
KPN’s board director Joost Farwerck said the network had been backed up to prevent malfunctions, but the backups had failed.
The government response prompted a backlash after people trying to dial 112 were given an incorrect number. Grapperhaus told De Telegraaf that the ministry would probe how the wrong number was given out.
“Was it an office prank or was there really no plan?,” asked Dutch Green politician Kathalijne Buitenweg in a tweet.
Earlier this month, Vodafone suffered a “disruption” to its mobile and landline broadband services, affecting subscribers in the UK and elsewhere.
The hi-tech Netherlands is one of the world’s most advanced states. Picture credit: PXHere