M1 fined record S$1.5m for service disruption in January

M1 fined record S$1.5m for service disruption in January
Outage was caused by poor electrical installation practices, inadequate risk assessment, says IDA
Published: 5:50 PM, October 3, 2013
Updated: 7:10 AM, October 4, 2013

SINGAPORE — Telco M1 has been fined a record S$1.5 million for a service disruption in January that lasted more than 60 hours, affecting some 250,000 M1 users.

The Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) said investigations showed that M1 had not fulfilled its obligation to provide resilient mobile telephone services.

During the outage, which occurred on Jan 15 to 18, 3G mobile telephone services were disrupted for 63 hours and 15 minutes in the south-western parts of Singapore (West Coast, Jurong and Tuas). 2G mobile telephone services were disrupted for 71 hours 15 mins, in the north-western parts of Singapore (Woodlands, Yishun and Kranji).

While noting that M1 carried out progressive restoration works in phases, focusing first on high traffic areas, the IDA said the outage was caused by the telco’s “failure to ensure good electrical installation practices” when carrying out upgrading works on Jan 15.

It resulted in the emission of sparks and smoke at one of M1’s network operation centres — a key telecom infrastructure node that houses essential network equipment, noted the IDA — which then set off one of the water sprinklers and caused the failure of one of M1’s mobile network switches.

The IDA also said that M1 “had not exercised due care and diligence” to minimise the risks when carrying out upgrading works.

“M1 did not have sufficiently rigorous control and supervision of the upgrading process, despite the works being carried out at a key infrastructure node housing sensitive telecoms equipment,” said the IDA.

“Given the serious impact of the service disruption on consumers and businesses, IDA has decided to impose a financial penalty of S$1.5 million on M1 for its contravention of the Service Resiliency Code,” said the authority. For breaching the code, the maximum financial penalty is up to S$1 million or 10 per cent of the annual turnover of a licensee, whichever is higher.

The IDA said it took into account the extent of the service disruption and the time taken by M1 to restore services.

The IDA also considered mitigating factors, such as the fact that end-users in the south-western and north-western parts of Singapore could switch to the 2G and 3G mobile networks respectively, as well as the measures M1 is taking to prevent similar occurrences in the future.