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Singapore slaps $447,000 fine on broadband operators for service outages

StarHub and M1 have been fined a total of SG$610,000 ($447,090) for broadband service disruptions in April and May this year that were found to be due to human oversight.
Written by Eileen Yu, Senior Contributing Editor

Singapore telcos StarHub and M1 have been fined a total of SG$610,000 ($447,090) for broadband service disruptions that occurred in April and May this year. Two of the outages later were found to be due to human oversight, including a system configuration. 

In determining the financial penalties, industry regulator Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) said in a statement Sunday that it had considered various factors such as the duration, impact, and customer service measures rolled out by the operators to mitigate impact. 

StarHub's service outage on April 15 lasted almost five hours and affected up to 250,000 broadband subscribers. Triggered when an employee made a configuration error during a scheduled network migration exercise, IMDA said the incident could have been prevented if the operator had better supervised the staff during the migration exercise. 

For breaching the country's Code of Practice for Telecommunication Service Resilience 2016, StarHub was fined SG$210,000 ($153,916), said IMDA, which added that it considered the operator's efforts in restoring services as soon as possible and its swift response and compensation to affected subscribed. 

M1's service disruptions occurred over two days on May 12 and May 13, affecting 18,000 and 20,000 broadband subscribers, respectively. 

The first outage, lasting 23 hours, was the result of a corrupted profile database in the operator's Broadband Network Gateway, which IMDA noted could have been avoided if M1's staff and service vendor had followed prescribed procedures. 

In the second disruption, which lasted six hours, a software fault in the operator's network equipment was found to have affected internet traffic routing for the affected subscribers. Here, IMDA determined M1 could not have "reasonably foreseen and prevented" the incident since it was the first time the software fault had affected such equipment and deemed the operator not to be in breach of the Code of Practice.

However, M1 was found to have contravened the Code in the first service outage and fined SG$400,000 ($293,173). Noting that the disruption had spanned almost a full day, IMDA said it caused significant inconvenience to the affected subscribers.  

The industry regulator's deputy chief executive Aileen Chia, said: "We take a serious view of any service disruption to public telecommunications services, particularly during the circuit breaker period when most people were working and studying from home, and will take firm and decisive action to safeguard our consumers' interests. 

"Operators must communicate any service difficulties with their customers and rectify incidents expeditiously, and should provide good service recovery measures to affected customers," Chia said.


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