Singtel hits record-high fine for internet failure last December

Singtel has been fined S$500,000 after authorities found out that the company caused the 24-hour fibre broadband outage in 2016.

singtel internet failure
A Singtel logo is pictured at their head office in Singapore February 11, 2016 (Edgar Su/File Photo/Reuters)

Due to Singtel's fibre broadband disruptions that took place on December 3, 2016, the Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA) of Singapore came up with a decision to penalise the telco.

IMDA said on Monday, October 16 in a news release that it fined Singtel to the tune of S$500,000 after their investigation into the matter proves the company caused the 24-hour fibre broadband outage in 2016. The incident affected almost 90 percent of SingNet's subscribers.

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Per IMDA's investigations, the service failure at the time was caused by a scheduled maintenance by SingNet on its DHCP (Dynamic Host Control Protocol) servers. The maintenance was said to be a security patching activity that overloaded the DHCP servers, thus, cutting off consumer's ability to request for internet protocol addresses. This rendered subscribers unable to access the internet.

Before even the maintenance activity was carried out, IMDA says there were already warning signs that would clearly tell the system is not going to take it, but Singtel pushed through.

"Specifically, the utilisation rate of SingNet's DHCP servers had been steadily increasing and were running at 80 percent to 90 percent levels even before the incident," says IMDA. "SingNet had failed to take prompt action to address the high utilisation loads before the incident."

IMDA notes the internet service provider would have been extra careful to deliver the security patches for its servers to avoid the overload, given the high utilisation levels. On that day, Singtel was able to inform its subscribers of the problem that took almost 24 hours before the internet came back on.

In determining the fine, IMDA notes they have considered the mitigating factors such as SingNet's compensation to impacted subscribers, preventive steps to avoid the recurrence of this incident and the close cooperation provided to IMDA during the probe. The fine is the biggest IMDA has imposed in the last three years.

This article was first published on October 17, 2017