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Mobile Telephony connectivity issues in France 7 Sep 2016

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Following the restrictions enforced by the French and Swiss authorities, Swisscom was obliged to turn off its transmitters in France on 29th August, 2016 ( Since that date, the coverage in the French area of CERN has been provided by Orange France.

In this new environment, a mobile phone should ideally move from Swisscom (CH) to Orange (F) networks and vice versa while crossing the border without losing connectivity. Unfortunately, radio waves do not stop at the border and there is always some residual signal from an operator in the adjacent country. Furthermore, the current international agreements between operators do not consider seamless communications, so communications (voice and data) are cut when changing network.

Reported issues

Network coverage

Lack of coverage at CERN premises

If you identify an area where you cannot connect neither to Orange nor to Swisscom within CERN premises, please open a Service Now ticket so we can assess the network in that particular area.

Areas around access pits in France

Swisscom covers underground and experimental facilities.
A telephone could switch from Orange to Swisscom while approaching the access pits (even on surface) and back to Orange when leaving the area. If you suffer this behavior and do not need to access the underground facilities, we recommend you to manually select Orange as operator on your phone.  If you do so, you will need to manually select Swisscom operator if you are on the Meyrin site or if you visit any of the underground areas.

Lack of coverage at home (piquet)

If you have neither Swisscom nor Orange coverage at home and you are part of a piquet service, please open a Service Now ticket specifying your GPS coordinates. Awaiting a signal improvement, we recommend to:

  • Use Lync (Skype for Business) as an alternative communication channel;
  • Give another phone number on which you can be contacted during the piquet service;
  • Activate your voicemail (Combox) so that the caller can leave you a message when your phone is unreachable.

Meyrin site

Meyrin site is covered by Swisscom on both sides of the border although only 3G is available in the West part.
If you do not have Swisscom coverage in Meyrin, please open a Service Now ticket.

Roaming between networks

Problems to call from the office

If you have issues to call from your office because Swisscom’s signal is too weak, we recommend you to lock your telephone to Orange while in France. If you do so, you will need to manually select Swisscom operator if you are on the Meyrin site or if you visit any of the underground areas.

If you are not able to call neither via Swisscom nor Orange, please open a Service Now ticket.

Orange coverage within Switzerland

Some manufacturers do not follow the GSM standard to save battery, so the telephone remains attached to Orange even while being in Switzerland. Only a manual action or the complete loss of Orange signal forces the change.

Problems to call when moving between sites

Roaming between networks will disconnect the on-going call/data session. Therefore, telephone calls can be cut when moving by car between sites.

Some smartphones do not switch from Swisscom to Orange because they try to send all generated traffic (e-mails, WhatsApp, or any other application running on the phone) before leaving the home network (Swisscom) even if the signal is quite low. If you work mainly in France and have difficulties to call/receive calls, we recommend you to lock your phone to Orange. If you do so, you will need to manually select Swisscom operator if you are on the Meyrin site or if you visit any of the underground areas.

When switching from Swisscom (CH) to Orange (FR) some telephones spend time looking for alternative networks. They will lose all connectivity during that period, which can last from a few seconds to a couple of minutes.

Unfortunately, none of these behaviours can be changed at the network level and it is only dependent on the user equipment. In these cases, we can only suggest applying a manual operator selection.


For further technical information, you can visit the following links:


Useful links:

Mobile contract changes in France

CERN Mobile Subscriptions

Mobile Services Overview

Mobile tariffs


CERN mobile contract changes in France 25 Aug 2016

Following recent discussions with the French and Swiss authorities, it has become clear that it is not permitted for a mobile telephony provider from one host state to transmit signals from the territory of the other. As a result, the Swisscom transmitters in France will be turned off on 29th August. From that date, coverage in France will be provided by Orange France.

Please, follow this link for further information.

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