M1 & Starhub fined S$400,000 & S$210,000 respectively for internet disruptions: IMDA

IMDA says they take such matters seriously, especially at a time when many are working and studying from home.

Nyi Nyi Thet | September 06, 2020, 11:31 AM

The Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) fined Starhub S$210,000 and M1, S$400,000 respectively for contravening the Code of Practice for Telecommunication Service Resilience 2016 (Code), according to a Sunday news release (Sep. 6) by IMDA.

This was in response to service disruptions for their customers by both companies.

Service disruptions by Starhub

Up to 250,000 StarHub broadband subscribers were affected for close to five hours during its service difficulty incident on April 15, 2020.

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.

Accordingly, IMDA found StarHub in contravention of the Code and imposed a financial penalty of S$210,000. In determining the financial penalty quantum, IMDA also considered StarHub’s efforts to restore services as soon as possible, and its prompt communication and compensation to affected subscribers.

Service disruptions by M1

For M1, the incidents took place on May 12 and 13, and affected up to 18,000 and 20,000 M1 broadband subscribers respectively.

The first incident was caused by a corrupted profile database in M1’s Broadband Network Gateway, which disrupted services for 23 hours, for approximately 18,000 M1 broadband subscribers.

The second incident occurred on May 13, and affected up to 20,000 subscribers for approximately 6 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 assessments

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.

Therefore, IMDA found M1 in contravention of the Code for the first incident, but not the second incident, and imposed a financial penalty of S$400,000.

IMDA 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.

IMDA takes serious view of such incidents

IMDA Deputy Chief Executive, Ms Aileen Chia, said they 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", adding that they will take "firm and decisive action" to safeguard their consumers’ interests.

She said:

"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.”

Image from Starhub and Capitaland