Parliament Sitting on 8 May 2017
QUESTION FOR ORAL ANSWER
*18. Mr Ang Wei Neng: To ask the Minister for Communications and Information (a) for the past five years, how many instances of internet disruption lasting more than three hours have there been; (b) of these, many cases have been due to cable cuts; (c) how many users have been affected by the latest cable-cut incident in Jurong on 12 April 2017; (d) what are the lessons learned from the latest cable-cut incident; and (e) what are the measures that IMDA have taken to prevent a repeat.
Madam Speaker, IMDA takes a serious view of any service disruptions to public telecommunications services. IMDA has put in place strict regulatory requirements to prevent such disruptions and ensure quick service recovery when disruptions occur. Based on reports made to IMDA under its Outage Reporting Code, 26 Internet disruptions lasting more than three hours have been reported since 2013. Of these, 14 were caused by cable cuts.
2 The cable cut incident on 11 April 2017 affected about 3800 subscribers. Services were progressively restored over 28 hours. This incident was caused by construction works undertaken by several contractors involved in a HDB project in the Jurong area. IMDA’s investigation is on-going, and thus it would be premature to share any conclusions or lessons learnt at this time.
3 Madam Speaker, investigations into past cable cut incidents revealed that most incidents occurred because contractors did not follow established standard operating procedures (SOPs). These contractors were also not careful and failed to exercise due diligence when undertaking earthworks. To overcome these problems, IMDA has been carrying out regular dialogue sessions with relevant government agencies and their contractors on preventive measures. IMDA has also circulated Dos and Don’ts in multiple languages at worksites to alert workers on the need to exercise due care and caution when carrying out earthworks.
4 Madam Speaker, cable cut incidents impose significant costs on operators, consumers, and businesses. I am told that the telcos’ repair costs alone can sometimes exceed half a million dollars. These costs exclude those incurred by consumers and businesses. IMDA will continue to work closely with all parties involved to ensure that the number of such cable cut incidents is minimised.