French police to investigate vandalism behind internet outage

PARIS, April 27 (Reuters) – The Paris prosecutor’s office said it has opened an investigation into the causes of a major internet outage that hit France’s telecommunications network on Wednesday after reports of coordinated vandalism.

The French Telecom Federation said vandalism attacks had hit telecom networks in several regions, including the Ile-de-France region around Paris, eastern France and the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes and Bourgogne-France-Comté regions.

The investigation will be co-handled by France’s internal intelligence services and the national judicial police, the prosecutor’s office said, citing a potential threat to the nation’s fundamental interests.

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Earlier, Digital Affairs Minister Cedric O said on Twitter that internet cables had been cut in the Ile-de-France region, affecting the fixed and mobile network and that the ministry was working with operators to restore service.

A spokesman for Altice’s French telecom operator SFR said the group was the target of vandalism after 3 a.m. local time (0100 GMT) on Wednesday that affected the company’s broadband fiber network.

The attacks involved long-distance cables connecting Paris to the cities of Strasbourg and Lyon, the spokesman said.

These long-distance cables connect major hubs to the broadband network and the Internet, potentially affecting direct customers and other operators renting SFR’s network, such as Free, who also tweeted about vandalism.

SFR declined to provide further details about the location of the damaged underground cables. It also declined to say when full service would resume or commented on the number of cities and customers potentially affected.

Another long-distance fiber optic link, linking Paris to the city of Lille, was also damaged, an industry source said.

French rival Orange (ORAN.PA)which operates a significant portion of the country’s fiber optic network, said it was not affected by the attacks.

French media reported major internet outages in major cities such as Paris, Lyon, Bordeaux, Reims and Grenoble, citing officials as saying vandalism or sabotage was suspected.

The newspaper Le Parisien reported that underground cables had been damaged in the French departments of Seine-et-Marne and Essone, adding that these cables linked the Paris and Lyon nodes.

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Report by Tassilo Hummel, Geert De Clercq and Mathieu Rosemain; adaptation by Tomasz Janowski, Elaine Hardcastle

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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