KPNQwest's Ebone to shut at 4.45pm today

Exhausted volunteers say time is running out

Volunteers who've been manning KPNQwest's pan-European Ebone broadband network for the last eight days say they will shut it down today if no buyer is found.

The ultimatum was delivered in an email last night after exhausted workers said enough was enough.

Around 100 unpaid former KPNQwest employees have been keeping the network running from the Network Operations Centre in Brussels while the bankrupt telco looks for a buyer.

But they said that the network will be shut down today at 1700 CET (4pm BST) unless the matter is resolved.

Warning of the impact such a move might have they said. "If your e-mail doesn't crash you will still feel the impact of the global price increases that must result from the closure of a network of this magnitude."

They added: "After eight days of voluntary work employees are now physically exhausted.

"Very soon they will have no other choice but to abandon the network they have been building with pride and care for ten years.

"The unprecedented shutdown of such a network would yield serious yet unpredictable economic and social consequences for Europe, including the possible bankruptcy of many small companies dependent on the network to provide services to their customers," they said.

The Ebone network is estimated to carry 25 per cent of European Internet traffic with some reports warning of a "meltdown" if the network is switched off. ®

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