Macau watchdog may get telcos to compensate users for blackouts

Bureau of Telecommunications Regulation studying mechanisms to make operators compensate users, or play mutually supportive roles in case of a network breakdown, following several network blackouts last year.

Macau's Bureau of Telecommunications Regulation (DSRT) is studying the feasibility of implementing certain mechanisms to improve networks such as forcing them to compensate users and support each other mutually, following a series of blackouts last year.

After five telecommunications network disruptions which took place in Macau in 2012, the bureau has been actively considering different measures to improve telecommunication services, DSRT director Tou Veng Keong said, The Macau Times reported on Tuesday.

The DSRT is also considering the possibility of making telecommunications network operators play mutually-supportive roles when there is a network failure across the whole of Macau, or when only one or two providers are operating, Tou noted. In cases where legal responsibilities are clearly demarcated, the telco will be asked to compensate affected users, he added.

For now, the bureau is still studying the feasibility of these mechanisms and no decision has been made, he said.

Tou also added professional consultants will be hired to overview and evaluate the operation of Macau telecommunication operators. He also acknowledged the telecom watchdog had inadequacies, and in future, these consultants will evaluate the work of the bureau and make recommendations for improving the watchdog's practices.

According to the report, the 3G network of the special administrative region's main telco CTM suffered a system breakdown in late December leaving some of its users unconnected for around half an hour. CTM also came under fire for two network blackouts in February and May last year and was fined MOP 180,000 (US$22,546) and MOP 800,000 (US$100,204) respectively.

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