Mea Culpa

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Local telecom operator Companhia de Telecomunicaçōes de Macau (CTM) assumes “full responsibility” for the Internet access breakdown on Tuesday but is leaving any talk of possible compensation until after the issue is resolved, said company CEO Vandy Poon Fuk He yesterday.
“We apologise to our customers. The issue was a software malfunction but we should have been able to mitigate it,” Mr. Poon said.
On Tuesday a software malfunction left 30,000 users in the city without Internet access for almost four hours, after an ‘an unusual surge of traffic’ led to the overload of two of the company’s Internet access servers, the company declared.
Currently, the company uses six servers, responsible for 170,000 online users, with the two affected being responsible for the Internet access of 55,000 users; the company says only 30,000 users ‘scattered around the city’ were affected, and that the telecom operator had received 3,000 complaints on the day of the malfunction.
The shutdown was said to not have impacted telecommunications services or local companies since the breakdown did not affect fixed Internet addresses – normally used by business entities – and occurred between 7.30pm and 11.35pm when ‘most businesses were already closed,’ according to the operator.
The malfunction was said to have affected mainly ‘residential consumers’ with CTM vowing to solve [the problem] and update the servers by April 22 but with Mr. Poon conceding that issues might still appear until the “bug” is removed.
When questioned about possible compensation for clients, Mr. Poon stated that “discussing a repayment for customers will only be possible after the problem is resolved.”
“We apologise to our customers (…) This the first time a similar issue has happened. We had a major incident in 2012 but since then we’ve focused on ensuring network functioning. In 2016, we didn’t register any incidents,” the company CEO told the press.


Removing content
Mr. Poon stated that the company would “have to comply” with any request by the city’s Electoral Commission to remove content deemed to contravene Electoral Law.
“CTM has and will always follow the law. In case we receive any of these requests we will operate lawfully. So far we haven’t received any requests from the Commission,” he added.
Last week, the Electoral Commission for this year’s Legislative Assembly (AL) elections stated that communications operators could be requested to remove content infringing the Electoral Law.
In March, the Commission warned that local media could incur ‘infractions’ if its coverage was considered propaganda, defined by the Electoral Law as ‘activities that directs the attention’ of citizens disproportionately or reports that lead residents to vote for particular candidates.
However, Mr. Poon said that in the case that requests involve content providers such as chat application WeChat or social media platform Facebook the content removal request has to be directed to these companies.


Returning cells
According to CTM’s Corporate Communications Officer, Eliza Chan, the company has maintained its policy allowing customers to return a malfunctioning cell phone up to seven days after purchase.
“We maintain our own policy and clients will still be able to return their phones except if they have acquired Apple products – which has its own return policy,” Ms. Chan told Business Daily.
Last week the city’s Consumer Council revealed that the Macau Mobile Phones Sellers Association had decided to stop fulfilling its ‘7-day return’ policy to consumers, after negotiations related to changes on the Code of Practice had failed.