StarHub and M1 fined S$610,000 in total for service disruptions during circuit breaker

TELCOS StarHub and M1 have been slapped with fines totalling S$610,000 for Internet service disruptions during the “circuit breaker” period in Singapore, when a majority of people were working and studying from home.

StarHub received a penalty of S$210,000 while M1 was fined S$400,000 for contravening the Code of Practice for Telecommunication Service Resilience 2016, said the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) on Sunday.

Up to 250,000 StarHub broadband subscribers were affected for close to five hours during the service difficulty incident on April 15. A StarHub staff had made a configuration error during a network migration exercise, which IMDA said could have been prevented if the company had better supervised its staff.

In determining the fine, IMDA noted StarHub’s efforts to restore services as soon as possible, its prompt communication and its compensation to affected subscribers.

The disruptions involving M1 on May 12 and 13 affected up to 18,000 and 20,000 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. M1’s staff and vendor had not followed prescribed procedures.

The second incident was caused by a software fault in M1’s network equipment, which affected the routing of Internet traffic for affected M1 subscribers for about six hours. IMDA said 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, the authority found that the company was in contravention of the Code for the first incident but not the second. In determining the fine, IMDA noted that the disruption lasted almost a full day and caused significant inconvenience to affected subscribers. It also took into account M1’s proactive compensation to affected subscribers.

In a statement on Sunday, M1 said it was deeply sorry for the inconvenience the disruptions caused to its users, and thanked them for their patience and understanding.

“Other than a one week rebate off their monthly bill in June, where affected customers were able to receive the rebate in just one simple click, we have also proactively reached out to affected customers to offer additional assistance such as waiving excess mobile data charges incurred by affected customers who utilised their M1 mobile data for the impacted period,” said a spokesperson.

The company is also investing in a cloud-based call centre platform that can manage increased call loads and lower its response time.

StarHub said it regretted the home broadband incident in April and has since implemented additional measures, including enhancing the relevant processes, to prevent a similar recurrence.

“We also voluntarily extended compensation to affected customers who have received bill rebates that were equivalent to six days of free home broadband services. We take matters on network quality seriously, and will keep doing our utmost to maintain the quality of services for customers,” said the telco.

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.

“Operators must communicate any service difficulties with their customers and rectify incidents expeditiously, and should provide good service recovery measures to affected customers,” she added.


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