Starhub, M1 fined for internet service disruptions

StarHub Online and M1 Net in Singapore were meted out financial penalties of $210,000 and $400,00, respectively, for broadband service disruptions that happened in April and May.

Based on an investigation done by the Infocomm Media Development Authority, the two companies violated the Code of Practice for Telecommunication Service Resilience of 2016.

In determining the penalty for each incident, IMDA took into consideration relevant factors such as the duration, impact, and customer service measures adopted by the operators to mitigate impact.

Up to 250,000 StarHub broadband subscribers were affected for close to five hours during its service difficulty incident last April 15. 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. Even then, IMDA also considered StarHub’s efforts to restore services as soon as possible, and its prompt communication and compensation to affected subscribers.

As for M1, the incident that started last May 12 affected up to 18,000 broadband subscribers while another occurrence that started on May 13 affected up to 20,000 subscribers.

The first incident was caused by a corrupted profile database in M1’s Broadband Network Gateway, which disrupted services for 23 hours. The second lasted for about six hours, caused by a software fault in M1’s network equipment, which affected the routing of Internet traffic for affected M1 subscribers.

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.

Also, IMDA 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.

“Operators must communicate any service difficulties with their customers and rectify incidents expeditiously, and should provide good service recovery measures to affected customers,” said IMDA deputy chief executive Aileen Chia. “We will continue to work with operators to strengthen network resilience and improve customer communications.”