Govt to examine KDDI’s handling of 86-hour network outage

The Yomiuri Shimbun
KDDI Corp. Senior Managing Executive Officer and Director Kazuyuki Yoshimura, right, speaks at a press conference held online Tuesday.

The government plans to examine KDDI Corp.’s handling of the 86-hour network disruption that affected up to 39.15 million mobile connections, making the outage the industry’s most serious telecommunications failure to date.

The Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry is considering imposing administrative guidance on KDDI as the disruption constitutes a “serious accident” defined by the Telecommunications Business Law.

An expert panel within the ministry is expected to examine measures taken by KDDI to fix the situation.

The outage began at about 1:35 a.m. on Saturday, causing difficulties in connecting cell phone voice calls and data communications. The disruption affected users of one of the nation’s largest telecom companies until 3 p.m. on Monday. KDDI announced Monday that voice calls and data communications were mostly restored after 4 p.m.

KDDI subsequently continued to investigate the firm’s communications network and confirmed that its services had been fully restored at 3:36 p.m. on Tuesday.

The outage affected individuals, companies, government authorities and others using KDDI’s services.

It had a major impact on users’ lives, inhibiting them from making emergency calls from cell phones to the police, fire department and other authorities, and also hampering communication with those infected with the coronavirus who are recuperating at home.

“We deeply apologize for any inconvenience we caused over such a long period of time,” said KDDI Senior Managing Executive Officer and Director Kazuyuki Yoshimura at a press conference held online Tuesday. “We will consider compensation after confirming how much the outage has affected our customers.”

According to KDDI, a glitch occurred during equipment replacement work, causing abnormal communications congestion in the voice switching system.

The company completed the restoration work by Sunday evening, but continued to restrict communications capacity until about 2:50 p.m. on Monday because the load on the network had not been sufficiently alleviated. This situation resulted in the protracted outage, the firm said.

Of the 39.15 million mobile connections affected by the failure, up to 35.8 million were for individuals and corporations using KDDI’s wireless services such as au, povo and UQ Mobile brands.

About 60% of the approximately 62 million mobile connections provided by KDDI were likely affected by the disruption.

The ministry’s expert panel, the telecommunications accident verification council, plans to examine the circumstances and causes of the outage.

Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Yasushi Kaneko said at a press conference after a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday that KDDI failed to fully apply the lessons learned from NTT Docomo Inc.’s communications failure that occurred in October.

“We need to examine how we can prevent a recurrence of this kind of problem,” Kaneko said.