NetLink Trust has been fined S$450,000 for failing yet again to connect users fast enough to Singapore’s national fibre broadband network.
The latest penalty today is the fourth one in recent years for the builder of the network. It is for failing to meet standards last year, according to the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA).
The regulator revealed that NetLink Trust fulfilled between 88 per cent and 92 per cent of orders to set up residential services within three business days in the second half of 2014. The standard is 98 per cent.
Within seven business days, it fulfilled about 90 per cent to 94 per cent of such orders. This is below the 100 per cent expected by the regulator.
NetLink Trust also failed to hook up business users fast enough from April to December 2014. Instead of the 80 per cent to be connected within four weeks, it linked up only about 38 to 73 per cent of customers.
All new users were supposed to be connected within eight weeks but it managed to fulfill only about 62 per cent to 88 per cent of orders, falling well short.
The continuing lapses are a recurring issue years after the network was built out and with more than 830,000 subscribers already onboard. Yet, there are few solutions in sight, despite repeated fines.
While most Singapore homes and offices are physically hooked up to the fibre optic network, NetLink Trust is still often required to “turn on” some of these connections for a user to go online. When users switch broadband providers, they may require the same connection service as well.
A business trust owned by SingTel, NetLink Trust is responsible for the cabling of the nationwide network now, after acquiring OpenNet, the original builder of the network, last year.
Among the promises from NetLink Trust during the proposed buyout was smoother connections for fibre broadband users. Despite opposition from rival telecom operators, the sale was approved by the regulator.
For users, there doesn’t seem to to be another option now except to wait their turn to get hooked up. Even the IDA’s warning today to NetLink Trust to once again buck up is becoming familiar.
The latest fine is the second most serious one.
In November 2013, OpenNet was fined S$200,000, as part of a bigger S$750,000 penalty. In May 2014, it had to cough up S$240,000 for poor performance as well. NetLink Trust was also told to pay up another S$50,000 in December 2014 for the same issue.