Singtel handled Internet outage well: GPC chairman

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After an island-wide disruption that lasted nearly 24 hours, Singtel’s fibre broadband services were fully restored at 8.25am yesterday.

Singtel customers will get a 10 per cent discount on their broadband bill this month.

Affected broadband customers who are also Singtel postpaid mobile users will have their local mobile data charges waived for the weekend.

Singtel’s Facebook post about the outage received nearly 36,000 comments, mostly from upset customers.

Mr Zaqy Mohamad, chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Communications and Information, said that while he understood customers’ frustrations, the telco’s crisis communication should be commended.

He told The New Paper: “They gave early notice and there were regular updates. They also tried to alleviate the situation early by offering free data to their customers.

“But as many Singaporeans are reliant on the Internet, they would be a lot more sensitive about the outage. Smaller businesses might also be affected in terms of productivity.”

Mr Daniel Tan, 36, who owns the 24-hour Angel Supermart, had to deal with long queues at the Woodlands outlet as a result of the outage.

His systems, which are linked by cloud computing, was down, affecting real-time access to promotions, price changes and membership data.

Fortunately, he had back-up solutions – a Singtel 3G router and a StarHub 3G dongle for the cashiering system.

Mr Tan told TNP that this was the second time he had been affected by a broadband outage.

His Ang Mo Kio outlet was hit when StarHub was affected by a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack in October, which resulted in two major disruptions.

“It is quite upsetting. I chose fibre Internet because it is supposed

to be more stable than 3G,” he said.

“Some customers walked away and I had to mobilise four staff members to come in and appease customers.”

On Saturday evening, Singtel ruled out a cyber attack, or DDoS attacks, as the cause of the outage.

Singtel’s chief executive officer of consumer business, Mr Yuen Kuan Moon, said yesterday: “As our immediate priority all yesterday and overnight was to fully restore our services, we will now conduct a thorough investigation into what triggered the disruption – specifically why our servers could not send IP (Internet Protocol) addresses to customers’ modems to enable broadband connectivity.

“Once there is more clarity, we will share our findings with the regulators and work with them to ensure measures are in place to prevent any such recurrence.”

Mr Michael Lee, security evangelist at RSA Asia-Pacific & Japan, said businesses should consider putting in place continuity plans.

“For larger businesses, it would mean multiple connections and an agreement with another provider. For smaller businesses, it could be as simple as ensuring that they have a backup 3G network,” he said.

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