Exceptionally severe technical fault silences about a million mobile phones Saturday
Other wireless communications devices also affected
An electric failure cut off mobile telephone service to about a million subscribers of mobile operators Elisa, Saunalahti, and Kolumbus on Saturday morning.
Affected by the failure were phones located north of a line drawn from Vaasa to Mikkeli. The problem was cleared up in the early afternoon.
The three operators have more than three million subscriptions throughout Finland.
Elisa says that the failure started at 7:00 in the morning in Tampere, with an electric fault at one of the company’s control rooms. The company’s service centre soon began to get a surge of calls from irate customers.
An even more extensive failure in the Elisa mobile phone network occurred in 2007, when an estimated two million mobile phones were affected.
Land-line phones and broadband internet service worked without any problems on Saturday.
Elisa emphasised that the situation did not prevent emergency calls from getting through. The Finnish telephone network has been set up in such a way that emergency calls are relayed by other operators during disturbances.
However, in the Jyväskylä region, the fault prevented messages sent from emergency communications devices of the elderly from being passed on to a nurse on duty.
“We noticed the fault when things started to go quiet and the phone didn’t ring”, says Pirjo Urpo, head of social and health services of the City of Jyväskylä.
When a senior citizen presses the button of a wrist-held security phone, the signal goes along a land line to a centre in Helsinki.
“Information from there did not get passed on to our people on duty, because they have an Elisa subscription on their phone. The situation was resolved when the employees temporarily switched over to another operator”, Urpo says.