- POSTED: 11 Oct 2013 18:20
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The Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) said it will take appropriate action to prevent service disruptions, such as the one caused by the Bukit Panjang Exchange fire, from happening again.
SINGAPORE: The Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) has launched a full investigation into Wednesday's fire at a SingTel facility which disrupted a range of services across the island.
"While the operators and affected parties were able to pull together resources in a concerted effort to restore services, this is nevertheless a serious incident affecting many consumers and businesses," said an IDA spokesman.
IDA said it will take appropriate action to prevent such an incident from happening again.
The fibre cable lines that were damaged in the fire at the Bukit Panjang facility were reconnected by 7.15am on Friday.
However, SingTel warned that some people might still face difficulties getting their modems and set-top boxes back to life.
At 8pm, some subscribers still could not get an Internet connection.
Shahrun Adam Angullia, a SingTel subscriber, said: "I feel very disappointed. It's really been a very trying time. I didn't know how dependent I was on the Internet until now.
"Right now, I've just been using my mobile Internet to access Facebook and my emails, so I'm quite worried about the data -- maybe it exceeded (my mobile plan)."
Mr Shahrun, 28, lives in Woodlands, and has been without an Internet and cable TV connection since Wednesday afternoon.
SingTel says its focus now is to find out what caused the fire. It has also deployed a group of engineers to review the quality of the repair work done so far.
It will convene an internal board of inquiry to work closely with IDA to review the robustness of its systems and minimise the impact of such accidents in future.
Wednesday's fire in a cable room in SingTel's Bukit Panjang Exchange wreaked havoc on services that included banking and ATMs, as the telco aids their communication transactions.
One analyst says that companies affected by the incident are likely to relook their disaster recovery plans.
These plans are usually part of a service level agreement a company has with a telco or IT vendor.
Some companies pay a premium to ensure that no such outages occur, and if they do occur, that the problems are quickly resolved.
Serene Chan, a senior industry analyst in the telecoms sector at Frost and Sullivan's, said: "The loss of connectivity can cause a lot of damage to enterprises. And some will be more affected than others, especially those in the financial sector.
"Enterprises would have service level agreements with SingTel or their IT vendors, and the extent of the compensation SingTel has to bear would range and vary from enterprise to enterprise, depending on the terms and conditions of the contract.
"We can assume that enterprises in the financial sector would have paid a larger premium than some of the other enterprises for the assurance and security that they want.
"From the enterprise side, we bear in mind they are not purchasing bandwidth like the consumer segment -- they are buying reliability and quality, and a sense of assurance."
When asked how such incidents can be prevented in future, Ms Chan said that it is hard to indicate at this point as the cause of the fire is still being investigated.
She added: "Assuming recovery measures are in place, the risk can only be mitigated, it can never be entirely eliminated. Any unforeseen circumstances may just trigger it again."
Analysts say this incident could cause SingTel's brand image to take a big hit. Because of its reputation as a premium provider of telco services, customers would not have expected it to take more than a day for the problems to be resolved.
IDA said it will work with all operators to enhance the resilience of the infocomm infrastructure and minimise disruptions to consumers and businesses.
Under the Telecommunication Service Resiliency Code, operators are required to ensure that the design of their networks and services are resilient to service outages, and when outages do occur, to ensure that they restore the services promptly.
IDA said it has completed a review of the resiliency of the mobile networks of the three mobile operators in areas such as network design, technical processes, business continuity planning, and infrastructure.
It will continue its review of Singapore's telecommunications infrastructure, looking closely at the systemic resilience in all critical parts of the infocomm infrastructure. The findings will be captured in the new audit framework.