Following the rejection of a bid by an unknown investment group to buy Ebone, staff have pulled the plug on the network.
"The network is being shut down," said Graham Kinsey, a network operations engineer at Ebone. "There was no other deal on the table. We did not see any point in continuing."
Speaking earlier today (Tuesday 2 July), union representative Hendrik Vermeersch said: "The last chance of a takeover has gone. We are pulling the plug and are going home."
Shutting down the Ebone network, managed from a network operations centre in Hoeilaart, Belgium, has no direct effect on the remainder of the KPNQwest network, which is run from The Hague in The Netherlands.
However the shutdown does affect those KPNQwest customers that still used the Ebone network and may cause a slowdown of the European Internet, Kinsey said. Ebone had about 45,000 customers.
"Many customers have switched anyway, but about 50% of the customers are still connected and about 25% are completely reliant on Ebone," said Kinsey. "I think there will be a general slowdown in Internet traffic in Europe, but a network of this size has never been shut down before, so we don't really know what the effect will be."
The Ebone switch-off makes it even more likely that KPNQwest's 18-country, 25,000-kilometre fibre-optic network, Europe's largest, will be sold in pieces. A bid for the entire network was rejected last Friday.