An increasing number of mobile internet outages have been caused by bugs, as networks have become increasingly dependent on software.

Ninety major blackouts affected fixed and mobile networks across Europe last year. About half of these affect mobile Internet and mobile phone services, according to a report published by Enisa (European Union Agency for Network and Information Security).

A closer look at the causes of mobile Internet outages revealed that 40% are due to software bugs, up from 15% in 2012. The corresponding share for fixed Internet was only 9%.

According to Sylvain Fabre, research director at Gartner, mobile networks are becoming more and more dependent on software and the telecommunications sector is getting closer and closer to IT where publishers are launching software that is not as well tested as in the past.

Hardware failures, power outages, and software configuration errors were other common causes of mobile internet outages.

The problem is not just the number of incidents, but the number of people affected. Mobile Internet outages affected an average of 1.4 million user connections, compared to 100,000 connections for fixed Internet connections.

The only advantage was that crashes caused by software bugs were fixed in an average of five hours.

Incidents caused by fires and heavy snowfall had the longest duration at 86 hours and 62 hours, respectively. The average duration of the 6% of incidents classified as malicious attacks was also high, at 53 hours. However, that figure was skewed by an unidentified incident that took nearly a week to resolve, according to Enisa.

Fixed services were not affected by as many incidents as mobile services. Part of the difference was because some of the affected components in mobile networks were located more centrally and therefore affected more users, Enisa said.

The raison d’être of the report is Article 13a of the EU Framework Directive. It obliges fixed and mobile Internet providers as well as telephone services to report incidents to local authorities. According to Enisa, reporting incidents and discussing actual incidents is key to understanding the risks and what can be improved.

Send tips and commentary on news to mikael_ricknas@idg.com

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.


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