Taiwan Star Telecom subscribers should receive at least a 5 percent discount on their next phone bill if they experienced a service drop on Tuesday, National Communications Commission (NCC) Chairman Chen Yaw-shyang (陳耀祥) said yesterday.
Chen was addressing the legislature’s Transportation Committee.
Lawmakers across party lines asked Chen how the commission could ensure that Taiwan Star would compensate its subscribers after they lost access to telecom services for four hours on Tuesday afternoon due to a power outage in the company’s telecommunications room in Taipei’s Neihu District (內湖).
The commission had received 144 complaints from Taiwan Star subscribers as of Wednesday, Chen said, adding that the company informed the NCC that 30,000 subscribers were affected.
“We have asked Taiwan Star to verify the exact number of affected subscribers and reduce their monthly charges on their next phone bill,” he said. “All five telecoms in Taiwan have been asked to submit information on past drills conducted to prepare themselves to deal with nationwide power outages.”
Based on Taiwan Star’s standardized service contract, subscribers should receive a 5 percent discount on their monthly charges if services are suspended from two to four hours, and an 8 percent discount for a four-to-eight-hour disruption.
NCC Department of Infrastructure and Cybersecurity Director Cheng Ming-tsung (鄭明宗) said that while Taiwan Power was responsible for the blackout, the telecom was also to blame for the service suspension, as it failed to switch the backup power supply from the uninterruptible power supply (UPS) system to a power generator.
“The UPS system actually sustained power in the telecommunications room for two hours after the power outage began at 11:30am,” Cheng told lawmakers.
“However, the company encountered difficulties when it tried to switch from the UPS system to the power generator, which malfunctioned,” Cheng said. “The company’s telecommunications network was then shut down after two hours. The company had to get a new power generator to restore power, but, in the meantime, telecom services were unavailable for about three to four hours.”
All telecoms have held drills to deal with power outages, as shown by none of the networks being down during the nationwide power outage on March 3, Cheng said.
Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Lin Chun-hsien (林俊憲) said that Taiwan Star uses a low-voltage power system, while the other four telecoms use high-voltage power systems.
The public would not have known that Taiwan Star uses a less reliable system than its peers if it were not for the incident, Lin said, adding the NCC should regularly inspect telecom facilities to ensure that they are well maintained.
The incident called into question the resilience of Taiwan’s telecom facilities, given that the nation has experienced more frequent power outages than before, lawmakers said.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Hung Meng-kai (洪孟楷) said that 90 percent of the nation’s Internet data is transmitted through undersea fiberoptic cables, asking whether the government also has plans to reinforce the resilience of these facilities, which US experts have rated as “very fragile.”
“These facilities can be rated 95 out of 100 in terms of fault tolerance in regular times, but the rating could drop to 50 in wartime,” said Kenny Huang (黃勝雄), CEO and managing director of Taiwan Network Information Center.
The government is planning to fortify some undersea cable landing stations or build the stations underground, Chen said.
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