IMDA Imposes Financial Penalties On Starhub And M1 For Internet Service Disruptions

Last updated: 06 September 2020

Published on: 06 September 2020

Penalties imposed take into account factors including customer compensation offered

SINGAPORE  6 September 2020 - The Infocomm Media Development Authority ("IMDA") has concluded its investigations into the broadband service disruptions involving StarHub Online Pte Ltd ("StarHub") in April 2020, and M1 Net Pte Ltd ("M1") in May 2020. IMDA has imposed a financial penalty of $210,000 on StarHub, and $400,000 on M1, for contravening the Code of Practice for Telecommunication Service Resilience 2016 ("Code").

In determining the final penalty quantum 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.

Investigations into StarHub disruptions

Up to 250,000 StarHub broadband subscribers were affected for close to five hours during its service difficulty incident on 15 April 2020. 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.

Accordingly, IMDA found StarHub in contravention of the Code and imposed a financial penalty of $210,000. In determining the financial penalty quantum, IMDA also considered StarHub’s efforts to restore services as soon as possible, and its prompt communication and compensation to affected subscribers.

Investigations into M1 disruptions

The incidents that commenced on 12 and 13 May 2020 affected up to 18,000 and 20,000 M1 broadband subscribers respectively.

The first incident was caused by a corrupted profile database in M1’s Broadband Network Gateway, which disrupted services for approximately 18,000 M1 broadband subscribers for 23 hours, from 7am on 12 May 2020 to 6am on 13 May 2020.

The second incident occurred on 13 May 2020 and affected up to 20,000 subscribers for approximately 6 hours. This incident was 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.

Therefore, IMDA found M1 in contravention of the Code for the first incident, but not the second incident, and imposed a financial penalty of $400,000. In determining the penalty quantum, IMDA also 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.

IMDA Deputy Chief Executive, Ms Aileen Chia, said, “We take a serious view of any service disruption to public telecommunications services, particularly during the circuit breaker period when most people were working and studying from home, and will take firm and decisive action to safeguard our consumers’ interests. Operators must communicate any service difficulties with their customers and rectify incidents expeditiously, and should provide good service recovery measures to affected customers. We will continue to work with operators to strengthen network resilience and improve customer communications.”


About Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA)

The Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) leads Singapore’s digital transformation with infocomm media. To do this, IMDA will develop a dynamic digital economy and a cohesive digital society, driven by an exceptional infocomm media (ICM) ecosystem – by developing talent, strengthening business capabilities, and enhancing Singapore's ICM infrastructure. IMDA also regulates the telecommunications and media sectors to safeguard consumer interests while fostering a pro-business environment, and enhances Singapore’s data protection regime through the Personal Data Protection Commission.

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