IDA Imposes S$1.5m Financial Penalty on M1 for 2G and 3G Mobile Services Disruption

  • Date: 03 Oct 2013

Singapore, 3 October 2013 | For Immediate Release

Outage caused by poor electrical installation practices, inadequate risk assessment

The Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) has imposed a financial penalty of $1.5m on M1 for breaching the Code of Practice for Telecommunication Service Resiliency (the "Service Resiliency Code"). This follows IDA's investigation of the disruption of M1's 2G and 3G mobile telephone services from 15 to 18 January 2013, which found that M1 had not fulfilled its obligation to provide resilient mobile telephone services.

Some 250,000 M1 users were affected by the service disruption, with 3G mobile telephone services affected in the south-western parts of Singapore (West Coast, Jurong and Tuas), and 2G mobile telephone services affected in the north-western parts of Singapore (Woodlands, Yishun and Kranji). The total duration of the service disruption for 3G mobile telephone services was 63 hours 15 mins, while 2G mobile telephone services were disrupted for 71 hours 15 mins. IDA noted that M1 had carried out progressive restoration works in phases, with priority accorded to high traffic areas.

Investigations showed that the service disruption was caused by M1's failure to ensure good electrical installation practices when carrying out power termination in the course of upgrading works on 15 January 2013 at one of its network operation centres, a key telecom infrastructure node that houses essential network equipment. This had resulted in the emission of sparks and smoke which activated the gas suppression system, and in turn set off one of the water sprinklers, causing the failure of one of M1's mobile network switches.

IDA assessed that M1 had not carried out adequate risk assessment on the upgrading works. M1 had not exercised due care and diligence in ensuring sufficient safeguards to minimise the risks posed to its equipment and operations when carrying out its upgrading works. IDA noted that 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.

Mr Leong Keng Thai, IDA's Deputy Chief Executive and Director-General (Telecoms and Post), said, "IDA is extremely concerned with the length and scope of M1's telecom service disruption, especially when it affected services which are heavily relied upon by both consumers and businesses. Telecommunication service providers must continuously improve the resiliency of their networks, in order to ensure the reliability of telecom services in Singapore."

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. In its decision, IDA took into account the extent of the service disruption, and the time taken by M1 to restore services. IDA considered mitigating factors such as the fact that M1's end users in the south-western and north-western parts of Singapore were able to switch to the 2G and 3G mobile networks respectively to use their mobile services. In addition, IDA took into consideration M1's commitment to invest in network upgrades to enhance service resiliency, to prevent similar occurrences in future. To this end, IDA will closely track and validate M1's implementation of the committed network upgrades to enhance the resiliency of its network.

Review of Mobile Networks' Resiliency

IDA has also completed a review of the resiliency of the mobile networks of the three mobile operators, SingTel Mobile, M1 and StarHub Mobile, in areas such as network design, technical processes, business continuity planning, and infrastructure.

IDA noted that the network resilience and redundancy design, and facilities and infrastructure support system of the three mobile networks in Singapore generally meet international standards, and in some areas are amongst industry best practice. These include areas such as the adoption of geo-redundant network topology, and the implementation of resilient transmission backbone.

Notwithstanding this, there is still room for improvement. Mobile operators could make enhancements in areas such as network design, by minimising the number of single points of failure, upgrading network architecture to more advanced solutions to support full redundancy, and implementing better business continuity planning.

IDA will be implementing a new audit framework to review the resiliency of the mobile networks regularly and will be working closely with the mobile operators to enhance resiliency and minimise possible disruptions to consumers and businesses.


ISSUED BY CORPORATE AND MARKETING COMMUNICATIONS DIVISION
INFOCOMM DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY OF SINGAPORE

Related Resource

About Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore

The mission of the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) is to develop information technology and telecommunications within Singapore with a view to serve citizens of all ages and companies of all sizes. IDA does this by actively supporting the growth of innovative technology companies and start-ups in Singapore, working with leading global IT companies as well as developing excellent information technology and telecommunications infrastructure, policies and capabilities for Singapore. For more news and information, visit www.ida.gov.sg.

For media clarifications, please contact:

Adrian CHAN (Mr)
Manager
Corporate and Marketing Communications Division, IDA
Email: adrian_km_chan@ida.gov.sg

Angie LOW (Ms)
Senior Manager
Corporate and Marketing Communications Division, IDA
Email: angie_low@ida.gov.sg


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