SingTel experiences another 3G outage

update Second service disruption in five months results in irate consumers venting their frustration on Singapore telco's social networking sites. SingTel has since attributed downtime to both hardware and software glitches.

update SINGAPORE--SingTel reported another disruption to its 3G network last night afflicting some customers in the northern and western parts of the city-state. And while it said services were "normalized" within 40 minutes, some customers still had problems accessing the service this morning. The telco has since stated that the downtime was caused by two separate hardware and software glitches.

SingTel posted a Facebook update at 7.57 p.m. Tuesday stating that customers in some northern and western areas of Singapore might experience difficulties using 3G mobile services, and suggested they switched their mobile phones to its 2G network to circumvent the problem as they worked to find a fix. The mobile operator then posted an update at 12.18 a.m. Wednesday saying that all 3G services in affected areas had "normalized" since 9.40 p.m. Tuesday.

"We are continuing to monitor the network closely and we advise customers to switch their phones off and on if they are still having difficulties," the telco said on its Facebook page. "We apologize to our customers for the inconvenience they have experienced and thank them for their patience."

However, customers this morning commented on the company's statement and continued to complain of the service disruption. Wong Kai Leong, for one, said at 10.41 a.m. this morning: "IDA should fine Singtel...what service has been down since last night 7 p.m. Now Jan. 4, 2012, 10 a.m...Still down."

IDA, or Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore, is the country's ICT regulator.

On Twitter, @chua_sandy tweeted at 11.01 a.m. on Wednesday: "WTH Singtel doing?? Their service is really sucks...Frm last nite until [now] still no Internet connection."

In response to these complaints, SingTel issued another Facebook update at 10.57 a.m this morning, admitting that some 3G customers may still be experiencing "intermittent difficulty" accessing the Internet via their mobile devices. "Our engineers are working to resolve it as soon as possible. 3G voice and SMS services are not affected. We apologize for the inconvenience and thank you for your patience," it added. [Editor's note: SingTel posted another update at 12.24 p.m. to say: "3G mobile internet services were restored around 11am. Our engineers are continuing to monitor the network closely. We apologise for the inconvenience and thank you for your patience."]

This latest service disruption follows a similar outage in September last year, when its 3G network left many subscribers with weak or no network connectivity for as long as two days. There were also subscribers who had difficulty making voice calls and sending SMS messages.

SingTel has since told ZDNet Asia in an e-mail that the outage on both Tuesday and Wednesday was caused by "two unrelated and intermittent incidents", both of which are now fully resolved.

A company spokesperson said the Tuesday disruption was from 4.50 p.m. to 9.35 p.m., and this was due to a "hardware fault". The affected equipment has since been replaced. Wednesday's outage, on the other hand, started at approximately 7.15 a.m. and ended around 10.50 a.m. "The problem was traced to a software issue in the mobile Internet data network serving the western part of Singapore. 3G voice and SMS services were not affected," the spokesperson explained.

He added that due to the intermittent nature of the incidents that affected only some parts of the island, it was "hard to ascertain the exact number of customers impacted".

"We sincerely apologize to our customers for the inconvenience.  We are continuing to monitor the network closely and [working] with vendors to ensure services run smoothly," the spokesperson said. 


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