Categorized | National News

URCA Probes BTC Outage

The Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) is about to come under even more scrutiny over its crippling network outage last week.

The Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority (URCA) is launching an investigation into BTC’s actions to determine whether it took all reasonably practicable steps to restore the affected networks within the shortest time frame possible.

The massive outages on June 18 and 19 affected BTC’s fixed and mobile networks. As a result, thousands of phone subscribers could not make calls, send texts or get internet access.

BTC has since launched its own probe to find out what happened and is exploring the possibility that sabotage may have played a role in the massive outage.

Since the system’s collapse BTC has added nearly $3 million worth of minutes, data or talk time to the accounts of each of its customers.

The regulator has given BTC until July 9 to provide a detailed report on the outage, including technical details of all points of failure, the impact of each failure on network activity and related services and the time within which relevant personnel would have responded to these failures.

URCA says the report must also outline the causes for the outage, detailed steps that would have been taken to restore functionality and specifications of preventative systems and other safeguards against such occurrences, including procedural measures and related activity.

URCA has also prohibited BTC from disposing of, destroying or otherwise removing from BTC’s control any data, documents, information or equipment relating to the affected parts of its fixed (voice and broadband) and cellular mobile networks for the period of 90 days immediately prior to and following the outages.

“It is critical that such information remain in place, should URCA’s investigation require further audit and inspection of these particulars,” the regulator said yesterday in a press statement.

Referring to BTC’s operating responsibility regarding the “continuity of public telephone networks and carriage services,” URCA CEO Kathleen Riviere‐Smith underscored BTC’s
obligation “to take all reasonably practicable steps to maintain, to the greatest extent possible, the proper and effective functioning of any public telephone network that it provides, at all times.”

Mrs. Riviere‐Smith said URCA is committed to ensuring an exhaustive investigation into the network outage.

Such an investigation, she said, is fundamental to URCA’s mandate of representing the public’s best interests.

The CEO also discussed the regulator’s annual projects and activities for 2012, which includes its forthcoming public consultation on consumer protection regulations.

Consultative activity for this project is expected to begin during the final quarter of the year and will include in addition to a number of other issues, discussion of service level agreements between operators and their customers.

“These instruments typically outline the operator’s service responsibilities to customers, including mitigating arrangements when services fall short of agreed standards.

Mrs. Riviere-Smith says once BTC has fulfilled its reporting requirement to URCA on its network outage the regulator will take an additional four weeks to complete its investigative review of the matter.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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