NBTC orders DTAC to clarify network blackout within 15 days

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BANGKOK, Dec 22 – The National Broadcasting and Telecommunication Commission (NBTC) ordered Total Access Communication, Thailand’s second largest mobile operator with its DTAC brand, to clarify its five-hour network blackout on Wednesday within 15 days.

NBTC Commissioner Pravit Leestapornvongsa spoke after DTAC representatives had submitted a document regarding its network collapse.

Mr Pravit said that the mobile operator’s system was down unintentionally and without precedent as a result of the company’s customers’ data base transfer.

The firm will report to NBTC concerning the matter on Monday so that that the case can be set as an example for other mobile operators.

Any mobile users with a serious business loss from this mobile network collapse are suggested by NBTC to negotiate directly with DTAC or use their rights to file a complaint as a civil case to the court.

There are so far no penalties imposed on Total Access Communication, as NBTC can only order the mobile operator to restore its system and report updates within 15 days after the incident, according to the Telecommunications Business Act Section 38.

Further transfer of customer data bases to be done by any service provider must be notified to NBTC so that it could inform and create understanding among consumers, Mr Pravit noted.

He said his organisation next year will purchase vehicles used to inspect mobile phone signals in each area after complaints are received from mobile users of frequently cut signals.

Meanwhile, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Minister Anudith Nakornthap said he will invite all mobile network operators next week to discuss the cause of the problem as well as lay out preventive measures to avoid any repeated incident.

“The ICT ministry, which oversees telecommunications, wants to know the real cause of the disrupted network so that (we) can find solutions and lay out policies for the development of the country’s telecommunications industry”, said Mr Anudith.

The Wednesday disruption occurred twice: at 11am and at 5-6pm.

DTAC executives on Thursday apologised to their 23 million customers and offered to exempt usage fees during the disrupted period to its clients for 48 hours, from Tuesday until Thursday noon.

Registered customers will have fees refunded in their December invoice, while post-paid users will have their already paid phone calls refunded this weekend.

DTAC corporate affairs chief Darmp Sukontasap said the network failure was caused by the company’s transfer of a data system from current devices to new ones. The attempt disrupted communications for some customers and the problem intensified as mobile users tried to make repeat phone calls.

The firm’s executives said the incident was considered “out of control” as the database system transfer, commonly known as a “network swap”, is a normal operation, while dismissing the thought that the network collapse was triggered by the operations to upgrade its existing 2G network to the 3G system as earlier reported.