Singapore fibre network builder fined $450,000

Contractors installing OpenNet cables in Tampines in 2012.
Contractors installing OpenNet cables in Tampines in 2012.PHOTO: ST FILE

NetLink Trust failed to deliver fibre connections on time

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, in 2013, 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 includes $400,000 for failing to connect all business orders within eight weeks of customers signing up, as required under new standards that took effect in January 2013.

It failed to meet the mark from April to December last year, delivering less than 88.2 per cent of all orders within the timeframe.

It needed to also connect 80 per cent of new business sign-ups within four weeks of the order date, but it connected less than 75 per cent.

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

NetLink Trust has a duty to connect 98 per cent of residential sign-ups within three working days of receiving their orders. The rest must be fulfilled in seven working days. However, 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 fulfilled within seven days.

In a statement yesterday, 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," it said.

NetLink Trust, in a statement yesterday, said it accepted the fines.

"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," said its chief executive Ng Yong Hwee.

The firm is also stepping up recruitment and focusing on building better ties with building owners to address installation delays. Among other things, it is also pre-wiring commercial buildings with fibre and increasing its fibre capacity to address business demands.

In 2013, NetLink Trust was fined $440,000. Part of the fine - $240,000 - was for failing to connect all business orders within eight weeks of customers signing up. It connected less than 75 per cent of orders within the required timeframe in the second and third quarters of 2013. The remaining portion of the fine was for causing service delays to home users in the second quarter of 2013. It was supposed to connect 98 per cent of residential sign-ups within three working days of receiving orders, but connected only between 2 per cent and 50 per cent.

It was also fined $50,000 last year for failing to connect all home users within seven days of receiving an order during the first half of last year.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 22, 2015, with the headline 'Singapore fibre network builder fined $450,000'. Print Edition | Subscribe