Singapore Fines ISPs Who Cause Internet Outages by Mistake

By Bill Toulas / September 7, 2020

Singapore isn’t playing around when it comes to having uninterrupted internet services, especially during these times. The country is an international business hub that has been on a steep rise for quite a few years now, drawing a large portion of the investments that go in the Asia Pacific region, offering competitive taxation policies, a business-friendly environment, and a generally attractive premise. So, when internet service providers dare to cause networking interruptions, they’d better have a good excuse for it or pay a large fine.

According to a ZDNet report, Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), Singapore’s regulator, has reviewed three recent internet outage cases concerning the ‘StarHub’ and ‘M1’ telcos. There’s a certain regulation in place for internet service outages, which is the “Code of Practice for Telecommunication Service Resilience” introduced in 2016.

The investigation results are a fine of SG $210,000 ($153,916) to StarHub and another SG $400,000 ($293,173) to M1. Both ISPs were found to violate the law, as they demonstrated unjustified negligence during the events.

StarHub’s outage occurred on April 15, 2020, and lasted for five hours. During that time, 250,000 broadband subscribers lost their internet connections. The reason for this outage was a misconfiguration by an employee, which happened while a network migration exercise was taking place. Since StarHub could have had assigned more supervising agents to oversee the exercise, it was deemed that they didn’t take the most responsible approach possible.

In M1’s case, the IMDA looked into two outages, taking place on May 12, 2020, and May 13, 2020. The first one lasted for a whopping 23 hours while the second one endured for six hours. Due to the lower number of subscribers affected, though, which was 18,000, and 20,000 respectively, M1 fell on a softer cushion than StarHub. They did pay a larger fine, but it could be a lot worse if more people were affected by the event.

In the first case, M1 explained that a corrupted profile database caused the Broadband Network Gateway problem, which could have been avoided if the ISP’s telecommunication engineers followed “standard procedures.” The next day, a software fault caused an internet traffic routing for the aforementioned subcategory of subscribers. IMDA decided that this, too, could have been foreseen and prevented by M1 - so there was no acceptable excuse for that outage either.

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