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Orange says sorry with free calls

Mobile phone operator bids to make up for breakdown that hit 27million across France

AROUND 27million clients of Orange Mobile are to get a free day's telephone usage plus a free cinema ticket during the rentrée as recompense for Friday afternoon's major service black-out.

Chief executive Stéphane Richard said sorry to the millions hit by the crash which halted Orange communications across the country, cutting mobile internet access, calls and texts and said each customer would get a text message in the next few days telling them the day they would benefit from the offer.

The offer also applies to the customers on Free Mobile and other virtual operators such as Virgin and Breizh Mobile which piggy-back on the Orange network.

"We are going to offer all our contract subscribers, no matter what kind of contract, a free day of calls during the return to school week," Richard told a press conference.

Subscribers on unlimited contracts, who already get free calls and texts, would get 1Gb of mobile internet access to use during September and clients on pre-pay phones would get a day of free texts.

The breakdown has been linked to software on a server - called the Home Location Register - that links the subscriber's SIM card details with their subscription. Some work had been done on the unit just days before and the network collapsed after error messages snowballed.

However, the government highlighted the vital importance of the mobile network and Digital Economy Minister Fleur Pellerin told the newspaper Journal du Dimanche she was set to instruct independent regulator Arcep to launch an audit to find out how secure mobile networks were.

For a full list of virtual telecoms operators supplied by or supported by Orange, check the list at regulator Arcep

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