Singapore telcos may need to ensure backup mobile network

Mobile operators may be required to maintain a separate set of core network equipment, as part of efforts to raise the the sector's resiliency, according to the telecoms minister. This follows a major outage last month sparked by a fire.

Singapore is considering requiring its telcos to have geo-redundant mobile networks, to reduce the impact and possibility of future outages.

singtel fire
One of 3 chambers at the Bukit Panjang exchange had 149 cables damaged by fire (source: SingTel)

This is an option currently being studied, following a review of the three mobile operators’ networks after M1's major outage in January , said Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim in parliament, according to the Straits Times.

In the event that one location is brought down, the other location is capable of immediately taking over the full load and capacity, explained Yaacob in a separate Today report. He was responding to questions tabled by other Members of Parliament over last month's fire at a SingTel exchange which brought down services across various parts of the island including those of rivals M1 and StarHub.

International experts have indicated that no country has required its operators to build such a full geo-redundant mobile network at the core level, according to the minister.

An audit framework will be implemented by the second half of 2014, which is now being shaped with feedback from the industry and will cover network design, technical processes, business continuity planning, infrastructure and facilities to support the mobile network.

"Focusing on diversity alone does not make the network more resilient," Yaacob said in parliament, noting that a resilient mobile network was important for the country and would also include factors such as resistance, redundancy and recovery.