Fibre broadband network builder NetLink Trust fined $450,000 for delays

Contractors installing hardware for NetLink Trust, formerly OpenNet.
Contractors installing hardware for NetLink Trust, formerly OpenNet.ST PHOTO: ASHLEIGH SIM

SINGAPORE - Singapore's high-speed fibre broadband network builder has been fined $450,000 for failing to deliver fibre orders to home and business users on time.

This is the fourth fine in three years for NetLink Trust, formerly OpenNet. The largest fine was $550,000 for not meeting its obligation to the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) to roll out the network to all homes and offices here by the end of 2012.

This time, the fine comprises $400,000 for failing to connect all business orders within eight weeks of customers signing up, as required under new standards that kicked in in January 2013.

It failed to meet the mark from April to December last year (2014), delivering less than 88.2 per cent of all orders within the required timeframe. It needed to also connect 80 per cent of new business sign-ups within four weeks of the order date, but it connected only less than three-quarters.

The remaining $50,000 of the fine was for causing delays to home users in the second half of 2014.

Netlink Trust has a duty to connect 98 per cent of residential sign-ups within three working days of receiving their orders. The rest would have to be fulfilled within seven working days.

But in the second half of last year, it connected less than 92.2 per cent of home users' orders within three days. Also, less than 94.5 per cent of all home users' orders were met within seven days.

In a statement on Wednesday, IDA said it still finds NetLink Trust's margins of failure "unacceptable".

"IDA expects NetLink Trust to improve its processes, and will continue to monitor NetLink Trust's performance closely," said the authority.

NetLink Trust was previously fined a total of $440,000 for causing delays to home and business users in 2013.

A portion - $240,000 - was for failing to connect all business orders within eight weeks of customers signing up. It failed to meet the mark in the second and third quarters of 2013, fulfilling less than three-quarters of all orders within the required timeframe.

Although it must also connect 80 per cent of new business sign-ups within four weeks of the order date, it connected only about half of them in the second and third quarters of 2013. The other portion - $200,000 - was for causing severe service delays to home users in the second quarter of 2013.

In response, NetLink Trust said that it acknowledged the decision by the IDA, and accepted the fines imposed.

"As at August 2015, NetLink Trust has achieved nationwide coverage of more than 1.3 million households and over 28,000 non-residential buildings. While this has positioned Singapore among the first few countries in the world to achieve nationwide coverage, the current performance numbers show that there is still some way to go for NetLink Trust in meeting the regulatory service standards," it said in a statement. 

"We have taken a hard look at our internal processes and have put in place corrective measures to address the gaps, which may take time to bear results. We are stepping up recruitment and training, improving administrative procedures and customer service, and bolstering relationships with building owners and management. We are also rolling out initiatives such as the pre-wiring of commercial buildings with fibre and increasing fibre capacity across our network,"said Mr Ng Yong Hwee, CEO of NetLink Trust, in the statement.

SOURCE: IDA