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KPNQwest limps back after shutdown

The bankrupt company, one of Europe's largest Internet backbone providers, switched off Wednesday but is now coming back online.

KPNQwest, one of Europe's largest Internet backbone providers, switched off Wednesday but is now coming back online, according to operators of the bankrupt company.

The reason for the shutdown is unknown, even to staff at European subsidiaries.

"We were surprised ourselves," said Thilo Huys, spokesman for KPNQwest's German operation. KPNQwest's network center in The Hague, Netherlands, "pulled the plug without informing us."

The German operation found out the network was down when its monitors lighted up red, Huys said.

Five hours after turning the network off, technicians in The Hague were told to turn it back on again. The company intends to keep it running for a couple more weeks, said J. Van der Klauw, who is responsible for the operations of the network.

"It's the intention that there will be a restart," Van der Klauw said, though it is harder to turn it on again than to turn it off.

Liquidators have so far failed to agree to a sale of the bankrupt network operator, a joint venture between KPN of the Netherlands and the U.S. service provider Qwest.

Efforts to keep customers and sell the network reached a brick wall last week when staff walked out after KPN withdrew the lifeline funding it had kept up for two months.

Although final shutdown was averted this week, it is imminent.

"In many ways, there is no point keeping the network going," said a source close to the sale process. "All the customers had left; the only people using the network were KPN."

Until last week, it had been hoped that a live network, with customers, would be worth more than one that has been shut down. However, the bids being received were for around 1 percent of the value that the network cost to build.

ZDNet UK's Peter Judge reported from London .