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M1 users offered compensation for service outage

Singapore mobile operator confirms 3G services have been fully restored and says it will compensate users with three days of free mobile services in the month of February. It also faces potential fine of up to S$1 million.
Written by Ellyne Phneah, Contributor

SINGAPORE--M1 has fully restored its 3G services and promises to give its postpaid users free mobile and data services for three days, following calls for compensation for the outage which lasted 64 hours.

According to an e-mail statement Friday from the mobile operator, 3G services had been fully restored in the affected areas. The country's smallest mobile operator, with 2.059 million customers as of October 2012, M1 suffered partial disruptions on its 3G network preventing some of its customers from using voice and data services since Tuesday morning.

Affected postpaid customers will be compensated with three days of free local mobile calls, SMS, MMS and data services, starting from 1a.m. on Feb. 10 to midnight Feb. 12, the operator said. Prepaid customers will also enjoy an additional S$1 (US$0.82) bonus when they top up values of S$17 (US$13.87) and above, during the month of February 2013. These offers express M1's "sincere appreciation to the affected customers for their patience and understanding", the statement noted.

When contacted on Friday, M1 declined to comment on the total number of customers affected by the service disruption.

Customers call for compensation
The Consumer Association of Singapore (CASE) on Thursday suggested M1 offered some form of compensation to customers affected by the disruption as a form of good practice, reported news broadcaster ChannelNewsAsia. Because the service downtime had stretched over days, consumers who wished to terminate their contracts should be allowed to do so without any penalties, the consumer watchdog added.

This prompted several customers to call on M1 to compensate them for the outage.

Shawn Lee, an M1 user, told ZDNet Asia he expected compensation in the form of fee rebates because his network had automatically switched to a Malaysian service provider during the disruption. "What if I had made calls or SMSes, or used data services? I would have incurred a huge bill [from network roaming] and it wouldn't have been my fault," Lee said.

Another customer Matthew Quek, who posted on M1's Facebook Wall, said he expected either some form of compensation or no penalty imposed should users wish to terminate their contracts with M1. "[With these] at least, the existing negative vibes and opinions about the company could be somewhat amerliorated," Quek said.

Twitter user, Glenn Koh, said M1 should make the first step to offer compensation, out of goodwill, before customers started asking for more.

M1 could be fined up to S$1 million for outage
When contacted, a spokesperson from Singapore's ICT regulator Infocomm Development Authority (IDA), pointed to the Service Resiliency Code which states financial penalties can be imposed for any breach and such fines may increase with the duration or extent of service difficulty.

Under Section 8 of the country's Telecommunications Act, the spokesperson told ZDNet the maximum financial penalty IDA can impose for a contravention of the Service Resiliency Code is up to S$1 million (US$815,993), or 10 percent of the annual turnover of a licensee--whichever is higher.

The regulator will also consider any aggravating or mitigating factors or circumstances which service providers may have faced, before deciding on the final penalties to be imposed for service disruptions, he added.

According to both M1 and IDA, investigations into the power fault which caused network disruptions are still ongoing.

Noting it takes "a serious view" on the service outage, IDA added in a statement released late-Friday: "We will investigate the service outage thoroughly under the Code of Practice for Telecommunication Service Resiliency, and take the necessary actions if there is a breach of the Code. We also urge M1 to actively review and address their subscribers' feedback and concerns arising from this outage." 

The regulator reminded operators to comply with the service standards and ensure they provided "acceptable quality of service" to mobile users. "In complying with the regulatory requirements, operators will have to ensure the design of their networks and services provide adequate network and system redundancy, and there are backup plans in times of service outages. In the event of any service outages, IDA will take into consideration all relevant factors, including whether there are adequate resiliency and contingency plans, to determine if the operator has breached its regulatory obligations."

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