PARIS (Reuters) - France Telecom's FTE.PA Orange apologised to its users on Saturday and said it would compensate them after a mobile phone and internet blackout that lasted more than nine hours and left millions unable to communicate.
Mobile service went dead in the early afternoon on Friday, leaving Orange's 26 million users in France unable to make or receive calls, consult their emails or send and receive text messages.
Telephone service was restored shortly after midnight, while web-based services such as email and browsing came back online three hours later, Orange said in a statement.
"Orange apologises to all of its customers for the consequences of this serious incident and is working to compensate them," it said.
At a news conference in Paris, Orange Chief Executive Stephane Richard said customers on its networks would get a free day of communication, while those with unlimited contracts would get extra downloading capacity free of charge.
While the cost of the measures was unclear, Richard said they would not derail Orange's "Chrysalid" cost-reduction programme.
"Thankfully, we're not talking about anything like the same scale in costs," Richard said.
Orange, which assigned hundreds of engineers to investigate the origin of the "super-rare" incident, said software for an essential part of its mobile network had stopped functioning.
Engineers "would stay on alert throughout the weekend to monitor the network and the situation's development," it said.
Reporting by Nicholas Vinocur; Editing by David Holmes