10 Jan 2012
Thailand’s number two telco, DTAC, has suffered three massive network outages in the space of as many weeks.
With confidence shaken and an inquiry by the regulator looming, the beleaguered Telenor subsidiary called a press conference to convince the public that it was all down to improbable odds rather than mismanagement or incompetence.
DTAC CEO Jon Eddy Abdullah apologized for the series of outages.
The entire network collapsed on 21 December because of a technical issue with the migration of the HLR from one database to another. The migration was part of a two-year network modernisation plan signed off with Ericsson, that commenced in Q4 of last year, to replace the 18-year old 2G radio and back haul network with a modern one ready for 3G or LTE.
Abdullah said his technical people and Ericsson’s are now confident that they understand the root cause of the outage.
On 5 January, a switch in the South of Thailand failed, but what usually takes five minutes to restart took hours because of the ongoing HLR migration. The problem spread nationwide when a parameter change aimed at helping users come back online faster inadvertently knocked iPhone 4 users off the network, something that was unforeseen either to DTAC or Ericsson.
Abdullah has ordered a doubling of HLR database capacity before further migration takes place, which is expected to take six weeks.
On 8 January in the latest major network crash, a car accident severed one of two redundant fiber cables to the South and two minutes later, a bush fire cut the other cable. DTAC plans to build triple redundancy into critical network paths from now on.
Abdullah said that the chances of this happening were down to unbelievably bad luck and ruled out sabotage. “There are easier ways to cut a fibre optic cable,” he pointed out.