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M1: Network contingency plans worked

The Singapore telco said that its backup plans were in place and working, which allowed it to restore network services to consumers in days rather than in 12 to 16 weeks.
Written by Liau Yun Qing, Contributor

Singapore mobile operator M1 says its service outage last week was sparked off, literally, by its vendor attempting to connect power cables to its distribution rack. It added that its contingency plans worked and helped reduce the amount of time it needed to fully restore its services.

In a statement on Monday, M1 said that the network outage of 64 hours from January 15 to January 17 occurred because sparks--triggered by the unnamed vendor attempting to connect power cables from the transmission equipment to the distribution rack--activated the water sprinkler.

"The smoke triggered the FM 200 gas suppression system and gas was discharged. Shortly after, one of the 88 water sprinklers was set off, causing damage to one of our mobile network switches and resulting in the service disruption," the operator added.

M1 stressed that its contingency plans were in place and activated as required during the incident, allowing it to restore service in "the shortest time possible." Without such a plan, it would have taken 12 to 16 weeks to fully restore the service, it added.

M1 said:

Plan A for the radio network was activated, with the radio network controller and its associated media gateway being re-linked to the alternative mobile network switch. While the links were being re-configured, Plan B was concurrently activated. This involved complex step-by-step restoration work, including the re-configuration of 416 base stations to the alternative mobile network switch, re-establishing communication links, and traffic rebalancing.

This was followed by comprehensive testing, including drive tests in the coverage area of each individual base station, to ensure full call continuity for both voice and data services. Plan B resulted in a total of 199 sites being connected by 3 a.m. on January 17, 2013. Plan A took over and completed the remaining 217 sites.

Since service was restored last Thursday, the telco announced that it would compensate its users with three days of free mobile services in the month of February. It also faces a possible fine from regulator Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) of up to S$1 million (US$815,993), or 10 percent of the annual turnover of a licensee-- whichever is higher.

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