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M1 fined for network disruption

Singapore ICT regulator IDA slaps S$300,000 (US$232,320) fine on telco after deeming M1's efforts to restore network service "not satisfactory". Telco disagrees with ruling, however, and plans to appeal ruling and fine.
Written by Liau Yun Qing, Contributor

Singapore-based telecom operator, M1, has been fined S$300,000 (US$232,320) after the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) found that it had not fulfilled its obligation to provide resilient mobile telephone services after the network disruption in May this year.

In a statement on Monday, the IDA said its investigation of M1's network disruption on May 18, 2011, showed that some of the telco's subscribers in the Western region of Singapore had difficulties in making and receiving calls, and accessing SMS, MMS and mobile data services via their mobile devices.

"Given the serious impact of the service disruption, IDA has decided to impose a financial penalty of S$300,000 on M1 for its contravention of the Service Resiliency Code," the statement noted.

"While IDA noted that the fault that caused the service disruption was not foreseeable and not within M1's control and M1 needed time to identify and restore service, IDA deemed that M1's efforts to restore the services expeditiously were not satisfactory."

According to IDA's investigations, the disruption was caused by faulty hardware cards in the telco's backend systems. This affected the database used to identify and update the location of M1's subscribers in the west of Singapore, thus disrupting mobile services to these users. More than 5 percent of M1's base stations were affected, it added.

The ICT regulator added that due to the "unique nature" of the disruption, no alarms were triggered in M1's monitoring system which affected the telco's iinitial efforts in identifying and isolating the cause of the service disruption.

In making its decision of the fine, the regulator considered various factors such as the prolonged delay in isolating and identifying the fault and to restore services as well as M1's efforts to compensate end-users, it said.

M1 has since issued a separate press statement, saying it disagrees with IDA's enforcement action and the basis on which the fine was imposed. The telco also stated that it has taken steps to further enhance its network systems and processes.

"We do not agree with IDA's determination that M1 had crossed the impact threshold of 5 percent of base stations under the Code, especially since none of our base stations were down. It was an isolated case and M1 had taken all the necessary course of actions to restore services to end users. As the problem was intermittent, the troubleshooting process was prolonged," M1 said.

The telco added it intends to file an appeal against IDA's ruling and fine.

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