IDA to OpenNet: Three working days to get homes hooked up

From next year, the waiting time for 98 per cent of home consumers to be connected to the fibre-optic Next-Generation Nationwide Broadband Network (Next-Gen NBN) must be capped at three working days.

Of the remaining 2 per cent, the connection must be made over day 4 to day 7.

The waiting time begins when a service provider puts in a connection request, on behalf of a customer, to the network builder OpenNet.

If OpenNet takes a longer time in either case, it may be fined.

These were two of four minimum standards imposed by the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) on OpenNet yesterday.

In February, IDA said consumers could wait as long as one to two weeks for an installation. There are over 170,000 fibre-broadband subscribers here currently.

The telecom regulator also said that OpenNet would be fined at least $10,000 for breaching each standard per month. This means that if Open- Net fails on all four standards in a month, it is liable to a minimum penalty of $40,000.

The amount could rise, depending on the severity of lapses or whether there are repeated offences. The maximum fine per month per breach is $1 million, or up to 10 per cent of OpenNet's annual gross turnover, whichever is higher.

The other two remaining minimum standards for Open- Net are meeting at least 80 per cent of orders for commercial buildings within four weeks from the date it receives the orders, and meeting all of such orders within eight weeks.

Currently, less than 60 per cent of businesses got connections within four weeks, and less than 80 per cent were connected within eight weeks.

OpenNet will be required to submit reports to IDA on a monthly basis for residential orders.

Monthly reports for non-residential orders must be submitted within three months.

OpenNet, which was informed of the new standards on July 20, said it was disappointed with the IDA's decision and has appealed against it.

Mr Daniel Ho, the firm's director of business development and communications, said the contract it had with IDA specified a level of performance that Open- Net has been improving on.

"To preserve the sanctity of contracts, changes to the...contract should be done through contract variations mutually agreed to through negotiations," he said.

The standards will require OpenNet "to provide an amount of capacity that cannot be predetermined", he said.

This means it has to either default on the standards or hold a large amount of commercially unsustainable spare capacity, which is not viable, he added.

Internet service provider StarHub said it is concerned the new standards may still not improve installation times for businesses.

"OpenNet is simply not able to meet its service-activation period date for more than 70 per cent of our non-residential orders," a spokesman said.


joyfang@sph.com.sg


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