Nov 12, 2013

    Telcos may be required to have backup systems

    TELCOS here may need to have in place two sets of similar network equipment at different locations to ensure that there is a backup in case of a breakdown.

    Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim said in Parliament yesterday that this is one option being considered, following last month's fire at a SingTel cable facility in Bukit Panjang.

    "In the event that one location is brought down, the other location is capable of immediately taking over the full load and capacity," he said.

    Dr Yaacob was responding to questions from Members of Parliament on the status of the Infocomm Development Authority's (IDA's) investigations into the fire, and whether current networks are resilient enough.

    He said that the telecoms regulator conducted an in-depth review of the three local telcos' network resiliency and explored changes to improve the country's network after an M1 mobile-telephone service breakdown in January.

    A new audit framework for telcos will be implemented by the second half of next year, he added.

    IDA is also in discussion with the telcos on the scope of the audit, which will cover network design, technical processes, and infrastructure and facilities, among other things.

    As for the SingTel fire on Oct 9, which also affected M1 and StarHub's networks, Dr Yaacob said that IDA's investigations will focus on the cause of the fire, if it could have been prevented, and whether SingTel took all the necessary actions to restore services quickly.

    IDA will also examine whether affected businesses were given alternative connection options during the breakdown, how effective these alternatives were, and what could have been done to prevent similar incidents.

    "Based on the findings, we will review if further policy measures are necessary, including having similar audit frameworks for other networks," Dr Yaacob said.