Today, the EU’s cyber security agency ENISA published a new report about how mobile roaming could be used nationally to mitigate large mobile network outages. This report aims to provide national telecom regulators with a portfolio of possible options as well as the pros and cons of different national roaming schemes from a security and resilience perspective.
Mobile communication networks and services have become an integral part of everyday life. People are now more and more reliant on their mobile phone and expect to be connected anywhere at any time. Neelie Kroes, the European Commissioner for the Digital Agenda, remarked, “Telecom affects everything and users are developing massive expectations of it. Markets must function, devices must function, networks must function and investment needs to happen.”
Outages of mobile networks can have a severe impact on both the economy and society and are also common. In 2012, half of the major communication outages reported by EU Member States to ENISA under Article 13a were mobile network outages. Sometimes mobile network outages can last several days. For example, in 2012 a fire affected a telecom infrastructure in the Netherlands and a large number of customers across the country were unable to use the mobile network for several days. The outage had a severe impact across a densely populated urban area, vital to the economy.
National roaming could work as a fallback during severe mobile network outages, allowing subscribers of the affected operator to roam on other mobile networks in their country and in this way continue to communicate even when own operator’s network is down. In this report, we look at national roaming from a security and resilience perspective. We analyse different national roaming solutions and discuss the pros and cons and present a portfolio of schemes. ENISA also makes recommendations, for example to discuss possible national roaming schemes with providers and to support the establishment of mutual aid agreements between providers in case of severe incidents.
The Executive Director of ENISA, Professor Udo Helmbrecht commented “We have investigated national roaming as a solution for mitigating outages. This can improve security and resilience of European communications networks, and ensure that European citizens can communicate at all times, also during major outages.”
For full report and all recommendations
Background: ENISA’s 2012 report about major incidents in the telecom sector, plus, an animation showing the data about the reported incidents and a video about incident reporting in the telecom sector.
Vice President and Commissioner for the Digital Agenda, Neelie Kroes; speech.
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