IDA to audit critical telecom networks for “systemic resilience”

October 11th, 2013 | by Alfred Siew
IDA to audit critical telecom networks for “systemic resilience”
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singtel workers recovering damaged fibre optic cables
(source: SingTel)

Singapore’s infocomm regulator said today that it will scrutinise how resilient the country’s critical telecom networks are in a widened government review, after a severe outage in the past two days cut telecom and banking services in several parts of the country.

The Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) said it would check up on critical infrastructure, such as the SingTel exchange that caught fire on Wednesday, and include the findings in new audits that it had planned initially only for mobile networks.

This will come amid investigations into the cause of the fire, which damaged fibre optic cables and cut off tens of thousands of users in a country known for its well-run infrastructure.

Areas to be reviewed could include how well a network was designed and whether contingency plans are suitably in place before a crisis hits. In particular, the IDA will look closely at “systemic resilience”, in other words, how the entire network works together to overcome points of failure.

Deploying more than 100 engineers at one point, SingTel had managed to recover the damaged fibre optic cables by this morning.

But while the operators and affected parties were able to pull together resources in a concerted effort to restore services, this was nevertheless a serious incident affecting many consumers and businesses, the IDA said in its statement today.

The regulator, which has come under public pressure after several high-profile disruptions in the past two years, reminded telecom operators that their networks and services are expected to be restored “expeditiously” when outages occur.

The devil could be in the details, which may possibly include new requirements for telcos to adhere to, if the regulator heeds the call from many users.

Besides strict standards to keep networks running, this could mean that telcos will also have to follow more stringent guidelines in their recovery plans after a severe outage.

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