SINGAPORE: Singtel was on Monday (Oct 16) fined S$500,000 for the nearly 24-hour fibre broadband disruption that first started on Dec 3 last year.
The Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA) said in its press release that the incident affected close to 90 per cent of SingNet's fibre broadband subscribers. Their access to Internet services was progressively restored during the incident.
IMDA’s investigations revealed that the service disruption was triggered by a planned maintenance by SingNet on its Dynamic Host Control Protocol (DHCP) servers. The maintenance activity, which was intended to install security patches, overloaded the DHCP servers and resulted in their inability to process subscribers’ requests for Internet Protocol (IP) addresses.
As a result, affected subscribers could not access the Internet, the regulator said.
IMDA also said while it was the planned maintenance which ultimately caused the overload, its investigations showed that there were already "warning signs" in the lead up to the incident.
"Specifically, the utilisation rate of SingNet’s DHCP servers had been steadily increasing and were running at 80 per cent to 90 per cent levels even before the incident," it said. "SingNet had failed to take prompt action to address the high utilisation loads before the incident.
"In view of the high utilisation levels, SingNet should have exercised greater due diligence and caution when planning the installation of security patches for its DHCP servers to prevent the overload."
On Dec 3 last year, Singtel notified its customers in the morning that its fibre broadband service was down and that its engineers were looking at the issue. It took nearly 24 hours before the service was fully restored the day after. CEO of Singtel's Consumer Singapore group Yuen Kuan Moon said then that it will conduct a thorough investigation into what triggered the disruption, specifically why its servers could not send IP addresses to customers' modems to enable broadband connectivity.
IMDA subsequently said it was investigating the cause of the outage as well as the telco's service recovery measures.
In determining the size of the financial penalty, IMDA said it took into consideration mitigating factors such as the compensation which SingNet had offered to affected customers, preventive measures it has taken to avoid a recurrence of a similar incident, as well as the close co-operation provided to IMDA during the investigation process.
The regulator noted that SingNet has since upgraded its existing DHCP servers, and is conducting an "end-to-end review of its broadband network architecture, vendor management of critical platforms and its escalation process to improve the resiliency of its network".
SINGTEL OFFERED S$5M IN COMPENSATION
Singtel, in a separate statement on Monday, said it "deeply regrets" the disruption last December.
"We know how important network reliability is to our customers and we have learnt from this incident," Mr Yuen said. "We have extended S$5 million compensation via credits and fee waivers to affected customers, and have taken measures to further strengthen our servers, conducted a review of our broadband network architecture and enhanced the resiliency of the network.
"Our top priority is to always provide a reliable and secure network and we will continue to channel more resources to ensure our broadband infrastructure meets the growing needs of our customers,” he added.