The government’s administrative order told Docomo to implement measures to prevent recurrence, as well as being critical of the way the company informed customers of a resumption of services

On October 14, NTT Docomo’s network suffered a system failure that left at least 12.9 million customers without voice and data services at various times. Now, the government has responded to what it categorised as a “serious incident” with an administrative order telling the operator to ensure that that a disturbance of this scale does not happen again.

The government also urged Docomo to revise the ways it sends information to its customers, with some customers informed that the network disturbance had been resolved while in fact still experiencing technical difficulties. 

In total, the issue took around 29 hours to be fully corrected with all services restored.

The issue arose as a result of work being carried out on the network related to electronic payment equipment, such as that used in taxis and vending machines. 

The administrative order follows Docomo submitting an incident report earlier this month. The document outlines not only the reasons for the disturbance, but also outlines measures being introduced to prevent recurrence, such as separating the network’s mobile communications from the other adjacent systems.

As is customary for corporate incidents of significant magnitude in Japan, eight of the company’s executives, including CEO Motoyuki Ii, will voluntarily return a portion of their salaries as an act of contrition. 

Earlier this year, French operator Orange was similarly reprimanded by the government after a nationwide network outage meant some customers lost access to emergency services, possibly resulting in three deaths. The incident was reportedly caused by a software malfunction, with Orange criticised for its sluggish response. France’s mister for digital affairs, Cedric O, said that regulatory framework surrounding emergency calls needed to be reinforced, with regular crisis exercises introduced for network operators. 

In related news, NTT Docomo has recently announced plans to acquire shares in Japanese infrastructure sharing company JTower, aiming to increase their collaboration in rolling out an efficient 5G network. 


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