StarHub and M1 slapped with SG$610k fine for broadband service disruptions during circuit breaker

StarHub and M1 have been fined by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) SG$210,000 and SG$400,000 respectively, for broadband service disruptions during the circuit breaker. IMDA said both telcos had contravened the Code of Practice for Telecommunication Service Resilience 2016, which sets out the service standards and a penalty framework for service disruptions which result in widespread service difficulties.

"In determining the final penalty quantum for each incident, IMDA took into consideration relevant factors such as the duration, impact, and customer service measures adopted by the operators to mitigate impact," it said.

The service disruption impacted up to 250,000 StarHub broadband subscribers for close to five hours during its service difficulty incident on 15 April. The incident occurred when a StarHub staff made a configuration error during a planned network migration exercise.

IMDA’s investigations found that the incident could have been prevented if StarHub had better supervised its staff during the migration exercise. In deciding the financial penalty, IMDA also considered StarHub’s efforts to restore services as soon as possible, and its prompt communication and compensation to affected subscribers.

In M1's case, up to 18,000 and 20,000 broadband subscribers were affected on 12 and 13 May respectively. The first incident was caused by a corrupted profile database in M1’s Broadband Network Gateway, which disrupted services for approximately 18,000 M1 broadband subscribers for 23 hours, from 7am on 12 May to 6am on 13 May.

The second incident occurred on 13 May and affected up to 20,000 subscribers for approximately six hours. This incident was caused by a software fault in M1’s network equipment, which affected the routing of Internet traffic for affected M1 subscribers.

IMDA’s investigations found that the first incident occurred because M1’s staff and vendor had not followed prescribed procedures. For the second incident, IMDA assessed that as the software fault was the first of its kind for such equipment, M1 could not have reasonably foreseen and prevented the incident.

According to the authority, it also considered that the disruption lasted almost a full day, causing significant inconvenience to affected subscribers, and M1’s proactive compensation to affected subscribers following the incident, when determining the financial penalty.

IMDA's deputy chief executive Aileen Chia, said it takes 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 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. We will continue to work with operators to strengthen network resilience and improve customer communications," Chia added.

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